On his return to the Panthers: "It's been a whirlwind 24 hours. Obviously my mind has been going 100 miles an hour. I woke up this morning, and one of the first things I thought was I hope I have an unlimited data plan because my phone is blowing up.
"I'm excited. Being here and coming in and seeing (longtime security officer) John Coleman, it gets the juices flowing. There are still a lot of familiar faces here. It's an organization that I have a lot of investment in. I never lost my attachment to it, from the organization to the people to Jerry Richardson to Ron Rivera to all the personnel people to the people in the locker room. I'll say this, I would not come here if I didn't think that I could help in the interim, as far as working with Ron as far as working with everybody here. Working together to try to win football games this season to start, and then after the season at the right time helping identifying a candidate for the future. But I wouldn't come here if I didn't think that I had the energy, the knowledge and the insight that it will take to help this organization. And I bring a different perspective than I had before. It's been four and a half years out, with the last two in the media. I look at things differently now. While we did a lot of things right, and I realize that we did do a lot of things right when I was here, we also made mistakes, and I think I've learned from those mistakes. I think that different perspective is going to help me a lot. It still comes down to the fact that we have so many good people here. This isn't about me. It's about us. It's a 'we' game, on the field and upstairs. It's about people working together - coaching, personnel, business side. Everyone in this organization. We have good people. I know a lot of them. In that locker room, I'm familiar with the six captains. There are guys that were here and left and are back again like Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn. I know those guys. I know the principles and the philosophies of this organization. I'm proud to be a part of it. I'm excited to get going. There's a lot to do. We report to training camp next Tuesday. I've thought about sleeping on that dorm bed. I never thought I was going to have to do that again. But I'm excited to go."
On receiving a call from Founder/Owner Jerry Richardson:"Yeah, I was surprised. It's hard, this is Wednesday, right? Because the days are going quick. A buddy of mine actually called me Monday and told me the news that Dave (Gettleman) had been released. Then late in the afternoon, I got a call from Tina (Becker, executive director for the owner's office) asking me if I would meet with Mr. Richardson yesterday, and I said yes."
On where the two met:"I met with him at his house. There's a trust there. I know him, he knows me. We know the principles and the philosophies. We both have a burning desire to win games, to bring a successful season to this city. So it didn't have to be a long meeting because there's that trust there."
On how the meeting went:"When we met, we talked about now, moving forward and training camp. I can tell you this: Knowing Jerry Richardson, rash decisions aren't made, and being in this business – and going back to my situation – everything's about winning football games when you're an owner, when you're a general manager. Analyzing what has to be done to give you the best chance of doing so. Anyone in this league that makes those decisions – I've never experienced any decision that's made in a day, any rash decision. I think that they are made over time. We didn't go into specifics. We didn't go into anything that has happened in the past. We just talked about moving forward."
On his to-do list:"I'm starting to build it. I don't know if we have that long here to go through it, but there's a lot. There's a lot. The first thing is that I'll come in and I'll meet with Ron, and we're going to go over the roster. We've talked several times already. We're going to sit and go over the roster, what we think that strengths are of this team, what we think the needs are and then I'm going to meet with all of the department heads – the scouting department heads, everybody, every different department. I really just need to get a feel. I need to get caught up to where we are and then tell them what my visions are moving forward."
On his visions for the 2017 season:"I do, but it's too premature. I can't give them now because until I meet with everybody and go through them – obviously, I have some thoughts but until I meet and discuss it and go over the roster and get detailed – I don't want to go into anything because that might change."
On lessons learned from last time he was general manager:"You know what I think the biggest thing is? And it's a general thing, but making sure the analytical part of my brain takes over the emotional part of my brain. When you have my philosophy, when you have the philosophy that I think is critical in this business – it's 'we.' It's not one person. One person doesn't win a game, doesn't win a championship and doesn't do anything. It's the group coming together. Well when you do that and you work with those people so closely, you're going to create bonds with some people. You're going to create loyalties. When I look back and I look back at some of the mistakes, it might've been that loyalty, the emotional part of my brain. That's where I've gotten in trouble in my life - I have a big mouth some times. When the emotional part of my brain takes over, then that's not good a lot of times. I think the analytical part has to be there. Now being back and having that new perspective that I'm talking about, you're right.
"You hear about the salary cap and there were some contract issues that you look back and say, 'OK, did we make a mistake there?' If you look, we had a lot of good players, too. I don't want to lose all of that. We want to have the ability to sign those good players. But I do think if there's a number one thing, and I think that's what the great general managers do, it's the analytical part of their brain makes the decisions, not the emotional part."
On how his ties to the current roster played a part in his return:"I think one of my strengths is dealing with people, I hope. I do have a familiarity with a lot of people here. Anytime you're leading and managing, you have to have that ability to communicate with people. Not only talk to people, but listen to people. I do think that's a strength. I'm hoping that's one of the reasons I'm here."
On how the NFL has changed over the last four years:"It's funny because again, I have watched most games here, not here but on television. I think the game has changed a lot offensively, as far as becoming more of a passing game obviously. I think the business aspect has changed some, maybe the rules. But it still comes down to being able to set a plan, have a blueprint. How do you plan to win games every Sunday? What are the important positions? Who are the important players? Then how you get those complementary players and how you take their strengths and then apply it to what you do like maybe the top three things you're looking for at the right tackle position. If you get an injury in November, you might only have a guy that has one. So you take that strength and you put him in positions to maximize that strength and get the most out of it. That's what I think the good teams do in this league."
On if he'll have complete control of the roster as interim GM:"Yes."
On the timeline to naming a permanent GM and if he is a candidate:"To answer your question, our focus right now is this season – training camp and winning games this season. After the season is over, I think that's when you start trying to target candidates and develop them and move forward. I am here in an interim capacity to do just that."
On working as general manager beyond 2017:"Honestly, I've got 93 text messages on my phone right now. I'm not looking past this afternoon. But no, I'm here in an interim capacity, and I'm here in this role. You win games and then we'll start looking and targeting candidates at the end of the year."
On whether making long-term personnel moves as interim GM will be awkward:"I've talked about that trust with Mr. Richardson. I think that's why I'm here, that he trusts that I'll make the right decisions for this organization, not only short term but also long term. I can only do it one way and that is full-bore, full-go. I am interim, and I have that role, but I'm going to attack it just like I would any other year. I'm going to attack it and do what I think is best for this organization, both short term and long term.
"You know me. I communicate. There's not anything that's going to take anybody by surprise. Ron and I are going to talk and be on the same page. I learned growing up watching Bobby Beathard and Joe Gibbs in the eighties. They would go in Bobby's office and they would disagree. You'd hear the voices. You'd hear the arguments outside. But when they came out, they made the decision that was best for that organization. This isn't about me. This is about us, and the organization and working together. I'm confident that Ron and I will do that. I know that Ron is confident in it, and the coaching staff and personnel staff, everyone has to be on the same page. We have to know what we're looking for and where we're going and where we want to go to get there. That's the only way I can do it."
*On how he's seen the organization evolve since his departure: *"It's evolved great. 15-1 two years ago and three NFC South titles. Dave Gettleman did a terrific job. I've never lost the pride in this organization. I'm connected. There are players here that are here today that we brought in. But they did a great job. They brought in talented players. He had a great blueprint. Ron has done a terrific job coaching. It is so hard to win one game, but going 15-1. I'm very proud. And Dave Gettleman and everybody, it's the group. They've had a great run and did a great job."
On his relationship to Mr. Richardson during his absence:"It didn't change. I never sat down and talked to him. I'm the type that doesn't want to insert myself into anything anyway. We didn't talk a lot. I think the last time was probably when I left here. I spent from 1998 to 2012 in a very close daily relationship with Jerry Richardson. We have the same thought process and the same philosophies and the same principles. It's just like if you have a really good friend in college, and you don't talk to him for 10 years, but you see him again and all of a sudden it's like you saw him yesterday."
On the biggest challenges at this point:"Right now, most of the talent that you've acquired from the outside, you've acquired in free agency and in the draft. Normally, one of the first things you do is you want to have an emergency list for camp, both body-wise and position-wise and make sure you have enough guys to practice. And then guys you think that might be out there when you go over your strengths and you look at our needs. You have an emergency list with guys that you think might be available down the road or might be available by trade. Those probably are the biggest things. Right now for me, it's getting up to speed with Ron on the roster and the personnel people and the salary cap guy and just making sure that I'm ready to go when players report Tuesday at training camp."
On the contract status of Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen:"The only time I've heard that so far is in the media. Everybody has a contract. I believe it's Trai Turner's last year as well. It's a part of the big picture. As I've said, you have to do things that are the right decisions. I've heard people talk about making hard decisions or making easy decisions or soft decisions. To me, it's not about soft, easy or hard. It's about the right decision. That's the key."
On balancing veteran contracts:"I think it's communication. I think you explain what's best for the team and organization. A lot of the players here understand that. These are guys that have the same principles and philosophies. The team is the most important aspect. So it's about communication."
On Michael Oher's situation:"No, but that's one of many topics we're going to sit down and discuss, but I haven't gotten into any specifics yet."