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Gettleman finally gets his chance

Posted Jan 15, 2013

CHARLOTTE – At his introductory press conference Tuesday, we learned who Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is – beyond his years of experience, beyond the three Super Bowl rings and the long list of achievements on his resume.

We learned about his engaging personality, his family, his Boston accent, his time-tested approach to building a winner.

And we also learned what Gettleman doesn't have.

An ego.

"I firmly believe in the saying, 'Every man is my equal and that I may learn from him,'" Gettleman said. "It's not about who's right; it's about getting it right."

That's the attitude Gettelman is bringing to Bank of America Stadium.

And after watching Gettleman address the media for a little more than 20 minutes and discuss his NFL journey, it's easy to feel like you've known the man.

He talked about his triumphs, although his modesty forced him to preface a statement about such moments.

"Without being arrogant or bragging, I've had a pretty successful career," he said, sporting a Giants Super Bowl XLVI ring on his right hand.

But he also talked about his hardships and frustrations in the profession.

For years, he's been more than qualified to be an NFL general manger. For years, he's been overlooked, often in favor of younger, less-experienced candidates.

"Our culture is the next young whiz-bang is the next big thing. That's where we're at right now as a culture. It was one of those deals where, 'He's an old dinosaur, he's probably cranky,'" Gettleman said. "After the last go around last year where there were four GM positions open and frankly, I couldn't get a sniff, I just thought it was time to think about things."

Did he think he might never get a chance to be a general manager?

"Yes."

Gettleman decided to step back from his labor intensive role as Giants director of pro personnel and became the team's senior pro personnel analyst last year.

"It was a decision on a personal and a professional level," Gettleman explained. "I got away from that day to day stuff and it gave me a chance to get a bigger view.

"I was not going to be in a position where I was 62 years old putting in time. I was not going to do it."

Then former colleague and former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi became a consultant for the Panthers GM search.

"I saw that Mr. (Jerry) Richardson hired Ernie, and I thought maybe this would be my shot," Gettleman said.

It is. His shot finally came. And on Tuesday, Gettleman looked and spoke like a man who waited patiently and worked tirelessly for this chance.

An emotional moment said as much.

"My mother in law, may she rest in peace, said, 'With Dave Gettleman, what you see is what you get,'" Gettleman said, fighting off tears.

The Panthers are getting a quarter century of NFL experience, countless hours of road scouting and film review, a so-called "grinder" in the industry.

They're getting a former high school football coach whose only priorities ahead of football are faith and family.

And what would that Poughkeepsie, N.Y., high school coach say to the NFL general manager he became?

"He'd say you hit the lottery."