Panthers fire GM Marty Hurney

When the Carolina Panthers wrapped up their captivating 2011 season, highlighted by the standout play of rookie quarterback Cam Newton and an improved 6-10 record, team general manager Marty Hurney’s job looked secure.

But after a 1-5 start this season, Hurney is now out of a job. The Panthers made the move to relieve Hurney of his team duties Monday morning after 14 years with the team.

“I am very fortunate to have been a part of one of the best organizations in the NFL since 1998,” Hurney said in a statement. “As general manager, I will always regret not helping us win the Super Bowl or having back-to-back winning seasons. I hope this change starts accomplishing the direction to those goals.

“I understand this decision by Mr. Richardson and will always have an extremely close relationship with him. I consider him the best owner in the NFL. I am responsible for everybody in coaching, the players, the scouts and everybody in football operations. After six weeks, we are 1-5 coming off a 6-10 season.”

Hurney had been the Panthers’ GM since 2002.

The news of Hurney’s firing comes just hours following a 19-14 loss to Dallas and Newton’s diatribe in the postgame press conference. Newton, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, has become more and more distraught with the team’s in recent weeks — as has the rest of the organization, including owner Jerry Richardson — and has made his frustrations known to media members.

“This taste, this vibe, I’m not buying it, man,” Newton said following the loss to Dallas. “And I don’t know what it is but something’s going to have to change. Something’s going to have to change real fast.”

Something did.

With the move, Richardson cut ties with a good friend and the man who helped piece together the 2003 Panthers’ roster that made a Super Bowl appearance. Those days sure seem far away now.

“This was an extremely difficult decision,” Richardson said in a statement. “Marty made every effort to bring success to the Panthers and took the team to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games. Unfortunately, we have not enjoyed the success we hoped for in recent years. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Marty and will always appreciate the way he tirelessly served the organization.”

Carolina is one of only four teams which have failed to win multiple games this season. The Panthers have not made the playoffs since 2008.