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Transcript: David Tepper press conference

“I’m thrilled to be here. It’s incredibly exciting, a great organization, a great football organization and it’s a new day for this organization. Hopefully we’ll have bigger and better things to come, including Super Bowl championships in the future.”

On changes Tepper could look to make organizationally: “Well I don’t know if I quite have 24 hours yet that I own this team, so I’m still evaluating things. In general, like I just said I like to have an open environment, a one big family environment where everybody feels safe like a family. That means you can come up and talk to people and there’s going to be just openness on all sides of this organization, both the football side and the business side.”

On ideas related to practice fields, training camp location, Bank of America Stadium: “I don’t know who wrote the article about new practice fields - this would be one of the few places that doesn’t have new practice fields. Obviously we’re in need. I think a lot of these things can’t be done independently. I can’t talk about a practice field without talking about new stadiums, and as I said before, I view this as the Carolina Panthers in both states so we have to think about where we’re putting things. One of the things that I did say is that winning is important. One way or another we can’t be less than competitive with other NFL teams and at this point, given our practice field and what other people have in the league, we’re falling behind a little bit. Because I do view the football side - this is a business, don’t forget that - but the football side is very important, and winning is very important on the football side and I mentioned the community side, but one of the aspects is that we treat our players right and don’t have any disadvantages to any other teams in the league. Top priority would be thinking about that practice field.”

On competing with other organizations: “We have a law that was passed just recently and it has not yet hit the Carolinas - the whole gambling aspect. You think about the fans and you want to keep the fans in the building. Eventually it’s going to hit North and South Carolina. It has to, from a revenue standpoint. You have issues with paying teachers and other things down here, and tax revenue so it’s inevitable. When we’re thinking about these things we have to take that into consideration because I want to make sure fans are in that building and sharing this team, and I don’t want fans not in that building. Sometimes you get lucky when you don’t think you’re lucky, so one of the things that we’re lucky is we do have an old stadium that we have to re-do. We do have an old practice field, we have to have new practice fields. Along those things with some of the changes with the gambling, we do have an advantage so we can think about what fans may want. We have to make sure they’re in our building to cheer this team on, because I do think an active fan base…I do believe the fans are the 12th man on the field, and I want to make sure that 12th man is in that stadium. Some of these things are revenue producers, there is other development here. If we do move the practice field next to some place other than right next to the stadium, which makes so much sense, you do open up a lot of area for development and other development here. There is the new Amtrak station just up on Fourth Street where the Greyhound station is, if I’ve got that right? So I’m thinking about those sort of things. Everything goes hand in hand in this community. It’s not just the business things. It’s also a matter of things like high school games, and I think that high school [state] championships should be played in that stadium. That’s what I think, because that is part of the community, brining in the community. I also think there should be more – 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 in that stadium there really hasn’t been. So I want to utilize the stadium for the community because I think it is as important as being a member of the community.”

On changes in the employee culture: “Whatever it was, was. This is now. This is going to be an open place, so there are not going to be non-disclosure agreements no matter what in this new place and that sort of thing. That was then, this is now. That was then, this is now. This is going to be an open place where people are going to have the right people to talk to, to 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.”

On working with government officials: “I really haven’t had any extensive conversations with the governors and such. I just had a very quick greeting with the mayor, but that is about it. There’s a lot of discussions to have about how we do things here. This is my view, this is a partnership. This is the logical place for the stadium, not just with Charlotte if that’s what it is but also hopefully with the governor of North Carolina and the governor of South Carolina. Even though I haven’t really returned their calls yet, I am happy to return their calls now. It wasn’t appropriate before. I think there’s a lot to talk about and I think there’s some really interesting things from the development side for them and for me, for us, the Panthers to consider.”

On government support of pro sports franchises: “If I go and I put a development, I bring a lot of dollars in here and tax dollars in here and F-and-B (food and beverage) dollars. If you have an F-and-B tax or hotel tax or something like that and I’m bringing that tax in there, I’m making that investment, I’m not asking for people who aren’t using those facilities. So there’s a lot of different ways you’re talking about it. If we’re talking about win-win situations, can’t just be for me and it can’t just be for them, so it has to be a partnership and partnerships mean win-win and that’s definitely possible if you think that way. If we do development here, that does new development that keeps people here, just not on stadium day, and we open up for other things and I make an investment in MLS (Major League Soccer) and I bring that in here and I bring that many more dollars into the community, that’s businesses in the community and there’s more tax dollars generated then that makes more sense to split some of those tax dollars. That’s not taxing people who aren’t using those facilities, but they’re using things that I’m helping bring here. That’s the partnership.”

On current employees who may have been aware of workplace misconduct: "I can't emphasize enough the openness I plan for this organization to have. That openness and team. The team of this organization. I think there’s been an atmosphere where the thing, this organization, I’m talking more of the business side, wasn’t allowed to be a team and they were not able to go up and talk about things. There’s going to be no impediment to that in the future. There’s going to be no, let me just say that again, there’s going to be no impediment to that in the future. And whatever that means and whatever that brings, that will bring. And whatever falls, that will fall. That’s all I can say on that.”

On what he wants in a team president: "Experience running a sports team is probably number one and different types of experience like that. Some of the obvious business things like marketing, development experience of some sort and be able to do that because we talk about this, probably a lot of development here. I just want to make sure that the person here knows, there’s a couple people I’m kind of pinned down on, that they’ll be able to build a good team here and also understand the philosophy that I just outlined of openness and a team environment and one family. We’re a family here, and I want to make sure people understand that. That family includes the football side, it includes the business side. That’s the way I run my other business. You asked about my other business, it’s a family. This is a family and the family is protected and the family feels safe in here, inside this building, inside this environment. So I am going to look for somebody that can kind of make sure they have that vision.”

On aspects of the Steelers organization that will be reflected in the Panthers: “A certain amount of patience and let things develop. You actually have, I don’t want to give people too many compliments, but you actually are blessed with a pretty good football side here. A head coach that understands himself. I appreciate some of the changes that were made on the staff side in my view. I had nothing to do with it, but I’m just going to appreciate it. 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. You’ve got to appreciate that you’ve got a guy that understands he wants to have a strength in the organization and bring in good people to do that. That’s important, so I think that’s the kinds of things you like to see. I’m not looking to do too much there. I think we’ve got some good folks there, and I know people always want to hear things that are bad or not but I’m sorry, can’t do it. So it is what it is.”

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On personal reflections during the buying process: “You guys just have to just understand my neighborhood it was in East Liberty in Pittsburgh, it was real inner city stuff. I didn’t go to my first pro game until I was into my twenties, so this whole idea is kind of crazy to me. I am a person who has inner faith. Sometimes I kind of wake up and say, ‘Thank you God.’ I say, “God Bless America” because I think this is a great place to be and I think everybody in this room is incredibly lucky to be in this country. So those two things, I do reflect on all the time, my fortune and I do think of the different parts of my life because sometimes it seems like different lives for me, and I think it gives me appreciation to help and do the charity side and where I came from, and how people lived in, and what happens in certain situations. I think my high school class was near 800 going in and 500 going out, and that sort of thing I think is worse than that in some places now still. I do think about some of this stuff.

"I’ve been reflecting a lot about the football players here. I know you didn’t ask, but I’m just going to talk about this a little bit and some of these issues that somebody is going to ask me eventually. There are incredibly good guys here, I mean really good guys that love this country. That doesn’t get said enough - good guys that are charitable on this team. You should see, I don’t know if you guys appreciate and look on the website, the organizations that these guys, I’m talking about the football players, are involved in. Hopefully you get more involvement from them, but they’re already involved, they’re already involved. I know it doesn’t get reported enough, I know it doesn’t get said enough, but hopefully we can start accentuating the positive a little bit more around here. Hopefully I can bring that out. I’m going to get told by my press people that I shouldn’t say this. You ever watch Spider-Man? You know Spider-Man? I love Spider-Man. ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ I think I have that, I think our players have that too, and I think a lot of them appreciate that.”

On challenges facing the NFL: "The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is definitely a challenge and it always is a challenge. Every CBA is a challenge. I suspect this CBA won’t be more of a challenge. Obviously CTE is a challenge. The league has been on top of the issue making rule changes. I still have Steelers gear someplace in my closet so I’m just going to make that admission right now, but I have more Panthers gear now. But (Ryan) Shazier, that was a big shock and I think some of the changes, there’s constant changes going on in the league and I think the league is really thinking about it, trying to address those issues constantly. Some of the different tackling and ways you have to tackle, tackling penalties are going there so I do think that’s a challenge but I do think it’s been addressed.”

On lessons from time as a minority owner for the Steelers: “I think the Steelers had a pretty good philosophy. Dan and Art (Rooney) had a pretty good philosophy on the Steelers side so I’ll take those sorts of lessons. I’ll take the patience and letting things develop, which I think sometimes [decisions] are made too fast. I also have a personal great appreciation for things I don’t know, and as I’ve mentioned before that’s not them that’s me. Although I think they have that appreciation, too. Obviously it’s a great organization and it certainly is not a bad thing to have been with them for nine years and kind of just make observations.”

On his comfort making pointed comments: “I don’t really make that many pointed comments to that many powerful people to tell you the truth. You’re referring to things I did during the campaign, but I’ve tried not to make any since that powerful person you’re referring to has been the President of the United States. I really haven’t said anything about it, except for a few positive things on economic policy, which you guys choose not to talk about. If decide to talk about those things we’ll talk about those things, but people don’t like to talk about positive things. For my charity stuff I’m a big believer in social justice and I’m actually a big believer in the country and I’m patriotic. You guys know the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America? You know that? For the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible. What’s that last part? With liberty and justice for all. With liberty and justice for all. That’s what this is about, liberty and justice for all, okay? This is the most patriotic thing going. So that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

On NFL’s television ratings: “TV has been fractionalized so to speak, so there’s a lot of different media and you’re talking about TV ratings. When you add up social media, Apple, Amazon, I don’t think football is being affected any more or less than anything else. I also think gambling is going to make (TV) ratings go down, I just have a feeling about that. You may know more about that than me but that’s my feeling. Football - this is the best sport, in my opinion. I love this game. I love watching this game. I watch games, I watch all kinds of different games. It’s the only sport, talking about football again, I don’t know about you folks out there but I can watch almost any team on any Sunday. Just because it is entertainment and it is great entertainment. And while I love the playoffs in some other sports, it’s not football. You watch a regular season baseball game and let me know how that goes for some other team in some other place in the country. I’m not making any cracks about baseball, so I apologize to any baseball fans out there. I love baseball. Roberto Clemente was my idol when I was a kid. That’s kind of my feeling about that.”

On Jerry Richardson’s statue outside of Bank of America Stadium: “I’m contractually obligated to keep that statue as it is.”

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