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Carolina Panthers

David Tepper off to a winning start


ATLANTA – Close your eyes for a moment and think about a prototypical NFL owner. 

What do you imagine? 

I'll tell you what I see.  

Stuffy. Full of buzzwords. Buttoned-up. 

Based on first impressions, that's not David Tepper. 

"I should have worn a better shirt," he quipped shortly after he was unanimously approved by NFL owners to buy the Panthers. 

In a way, Tepper had on the perfect shirt. That's because he forgot the cufflinks that pair with the nicer shirt he planned to wear. But tell me, do you think a guy this self-deprecating was all that concerned about his button-down?

"I have a great appreciation of how stupid I am," Tepper said when asked if he plans to make changes to the football side of the team he's buying. "Sometimes it's better to do nothing than to do something. So I think you want to be very careful before you do anything." 

Again, this is all based on first impressions of a press conference that included four questions and fell short of seven minutes. But it was hard not to come away impressed, or at the very least entertained by his candor. 

He may not have said them in a typical way, but Tepper said all the right things. 

"I think it's a great football area," Tepper said of the Carolinas, "good people – like Pittsburgh people. So I was very comfortable down there."

And when asked about potentially moving the team from its home, Tepper went rhetorical.

"What's the name of the team? … Carolina Panthers. It's going to be the Carolina Panthers. There is a logical place for this team – it's Charlotte. 

"Listen, Charlotte is the logical place for a stadium. As far as the new stadium, again, you're asking too much. The only thing I have, and I'm working on it right now, is a lack of knowledge. I'll call it stupidity. So I've got that down. So I'll learn a lot more in the future. I like to know what I know and I know what I don't know. So I don't want to say too much about what I don't know."

So Tepper stuck to what he clearly does well. He charmed and disarmed. 

"Do you color that hair or is that a real haircut?," he asked NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport.

"You know I'm from Pennsylvania," he reminded another reporter after another exchange about hair – or lack thereof. 

Maybe one day we'll look back and see this brief press conference as a high water mark. The Tepper era is, after all, in a honeymoon phase. But it sure looks like it could be a fun ride. 

"If I'm moving some place and we're doing this in Carolina, the first thing I care about is winning. The second thing I care about is winning. And the third thing I care about is," said Tepper as he paused to let the room answer the obvious. 

"And that's on and off the field. That includes the charity aspect, the community aspect and how you make a community better. So you win a lot of ways, and I don't like to lose in any way."

And on this day, at least, David Tepper won the press conference.

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