New Panthers owner David Tepper on Tuesday spent about 25 minutes answering around a dozen questions in what will hopefully be the first of many meetings with local media.
Here are 10 of Tepper's most noteworthy quotes followed by some analysis/translation.
1) “I'll take the patience and letting things develop. ... I think sometimes [decisions] are made too fast.”
This answer was in response to what he hopes to take from his time as a minority partner with the Steelers, one of the most stable franchises in American sports that has had exactly three head coaches since 1969.
Which leads to ...
2) “You actually are blessed with a pretty good football side here. A head coach that understands himself. … Norv (Turner) is a pretty good addition in my mind on the offensive side. And I think Ron (Rivera) is a natural defensive guy. Just natural. Natural like walking down the street and drinking water natural ... So listen, I'm not looking to do too much there. I think we've got some good folks there. I know people always want to know things are bad or not, but sorry, can't do it.”
The football side has this season – at the very least – before Tepper makes any changes.
3) “This is one of the few places that doesn't have a new practice field, so obviously, we're in need. … At this point, given our practice field and what other people have in the league, we're falling behind a little bit. ... We treat our players right and we don't have any disadvantages to any other teams in the league. So top priority would be thinking about that practice field.”
It’s pretty clear new practice facilities are on the way, eh?
Tepper won't yet commit to where he’s thinking, but he did add: “If we do move the practice field to some place other than right next to the stadium – which doesn't necessarily make so much sense – you do open up a lot of area for development.”
Which leads to …
4) “If we do development here, that's new development that keeps people here – not just on (game) day – and we open up for other things, and I make an investment in MLS, and I bring that in here, and I bring that many more dollars into the community. That's business in the community and that's more tax dollars generated.”
That answer was in to response to a question about whether a billionaire should use taxpayer money to pay for his facilities.
Again, Tepper's not ready to completely spell out his plans, but it’s not hard to imagine what he’s envisioning. If he moves the practice fields – complete with what would be a welcomed bubble on top – that would open up land next to the stadium for new things. New is good, especially if those things can be monetized year-round.
Oh, and if you’re keeping score, yes that’s the second reference Tepper has made to Major League Soccer in as many press conferences.
5) “I kind of think that high school championships should be played in that stadium. That's what I think because that's part of bringing in the community. I don't want to screw up the field, but I think there should be more bigger events there like the right type of concerts. So I want to utilize the stadium a lot more for the community because I think that's important as being a member of the community.”
Tepper reiterated playing games at the site where Bank of America Stadium currently stands makes the most sense. But it does need “a re-do.” And more than just 10 NFL games and an occasional international soccer match.
6) “I’m contractually obligated to keep that statue as it is.”
The 13-foot statue of former owner Jerry Richardson will remain. But Tepper clearly wants this new era to avoid mistakes of the past.
Which leads to ...
7) “I think there's been an atmosphere where this organization – I'm talking more the business side – wasn't allowed to be a team and (people weren't) able to go up and talk about things. There's going to be no impediment to that in the future. … This is going to be an open place. So there's not going to be non-disclosure agreements no matter what in this new place. That was then. This is now. OK? This is going to be an open place where people will have the right people to talk to that come up with problems. And by the way, if I do something incredibly stupid, they should be talking about me. That's what this place is going to be.”
Tepper wants to establish a better structure inside the building. That’s why his first hire will be so important.
So what is he looking for in a team president?
8) “Obviously, experience running a sports a team is probably number one. Different types of experience like that. Some of the obvious business things: marketing, development, experience of some sort to be able to do that because as we've talked about, there's probably a lot of development here. There's a couple people I'm kind of pinned down on, that they will be able to build a good team here and also understand the philosophy that I just outlined – openness, a team environment and one family.”
So Tepper's search has already narrowed to two people. Big-picture ideas are likely a requirement. “Experience running a sports team” could mean someone with NFL ties, but that’s no guarantee.
Stay tuned. It’d make sense for Tepper to have a new president in position in the next month or so.
9) “There's incredibly good guys here, really good guys that love this country. And good guys that are charitable on this team ... I know it doesn't get reported enough and I know it doesn't get said enough, but hopefully, we can start accentuating the positive a little bit more ... You ever watch 'Spider-Man'? I love Spider-Man. 'With great power comes great responsibility.' So I think I have that and I think our players have that.”
‘Good guys in the community’ stories don’t generate clicks like top-10 lists (wait, is this one of those?), but Tepper hopes players will more often use Panthers’ platforms to further their work off the field.
10) “It's a new day for this organization.”