CHARLOTTE — Panthers owner David Tepper understands the fans' frustrations, because in his heart, he remains a fan.
But Tepper said Wednesday he believes in the work that is being done to build a foundation for long-term success here, and that he's committed to continuing that work.
He opened his press conference by thanking head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer for their draft preparation, and said Rhule had his "full support."
But he has also watched his team win five games each of the last two seasons, and wears it on his sleeve.
"Well, I am a fan," he replied when asked how difficult the team's struggles have been on him. "So now I'm going to talk as a fan. I don't like to lose. Who likes to lose? I want to win, OK. But it takes time, and it takes a foundation, to create the foundation to win.
"I do believe that coach Rhule and Scott are doing a great job creating that foundation. I do think we have made improvements in the coaching staff; we have done a good job during free agency to fill holes. Obviously we have some needs, and we're going to try to attempt to fill some of those in the draft. I'm fairly optimistic about the new season given all the different things that have happened here."
The Panthers haven't had a winning season since 2017, and he understands that at a certain point, continuing to talk about how long it took to build Rome wears thin.
"I think it's just building that foundation, having the patience to build the foundation," he said. "Trying to get fans to have the patience to build that foundation to have sustained winning. And it's hard to build that foundation. It's hard. I mean, listen, I have a new appreciation for how stupid I am sometimes.
"It's hard, and I have a certain amount of humility in this respect. Like every fan has an opinion, and I appreciate that; I had an opinion when I was a fan, too. One thing I do appreciate, generally speaking, is the passion the people have for this football team out there."
Tepper was asked numerous times about the team's decision to stop work on the planned Rock Hill practice facility and development, citing the organization's previous statement and a desire to respect the wishes of local officials to not get into a "back-and-forth" about the project.
But he insisted that did not put the team at a competitive disadvantage. He referenced Fitterer talking during his press conference yesterday about the upgrades to the scouting staff in terms of technology and staffing as evidence of that commitment.
"I think Scott yesterday went through things we've done in scouting and money we've put into that with personnel and other things," Tepper said. "We're constantly putting new equipment in; we're constantly upgrading all the time, OK. We'll constantly do that not to lose anything on that front. And we're doing it again this year.
"We'll do what we need to do to make sure we have competitive facilities inside this building. And that's where we are. . . . We're going to make sure we have very competitive equipment here, OK, that we have no doubt we can win with."