The Get with Morgan Fogarty: Dave Gettleman

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dave Gettleman is a guy who doesn’t like to talk about himself. WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty asked him, “How would you grade yourself as a GM and how would you compare yourself to other GMs in the league?” Gettleman laughs, looks down, says, “You know…” Fogarty asks again, “A grade right now, at this point in the season?” Gettleman says with a smile, “You’re really pressing me!” Fogarty offers a grade: “An A!” Gettleman finally admits, “I did good! I’ve done well, I guess, you know. But it’s not me alone.”

Maybe so, but Gettleman is the man fans blame and praise as the team evolves. And after getting infamously lambasted in 2014 for releasing fan favorite Steve Smith, this season’s success feels pretty good. Gettleman says, “When that happened, you know, I knew I was gonna get crushed. You can’t make a decision like that and not think….” He continues, “Now, I didn’t think it would go as long as it did.”

Gettleman says he didn’t read the paper for two months and refused to listen to talk radio. But he couldn’t shut out all the backlash. He says, “I’m home one night and there’s a knock at the door and it’s this neighborhood kid and he says, ‘Mr. Gettleman, me and my friend have decided that what you did was just awful and we’re really upset with you.’ And he goes on for about 35 seconds and I looked at him and said, ‘Well, you feel better now that you got that off your chest?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I do!’ I said, ‘Well, good. Have a good night.’ I laughed because he was passionate, it was fun. You can’t do your job well worrying about what other people think.”

Gettlemen, as he puts it, “gets killed” for lots of his personnel decisions: including drafting Kawann Short and Shaq Thompson. Gettleman says, “He’s (Thompson) a perfect fit for us, and I got killed for that one.” Fogarty asked, “Do you ever get any praise, beside right now?” He replied, “Ah, you know, my wife loves me! We’ve been married 31 years, she’s still hanging around!” He pauses, stops laughing and says earnestly, “The praise is in the relationships we have in this building. That’s where the praise comes from.”

Gettleman calls the Big Cat, Jerry Richardson, a great owner, saying Mr. Richardson, a former player himself, understands the game. When it comes to the men understanding each other’s accents, that’s a different story. Gettleman says, while laughing, “So I’m in a meeting with him about six weeks in and I’m in and out of his office with like, five points. Apparently later on, Mister (Richardson) bumped into Ron (Rivera) and said, ‘Ron, do you understand Dave?’ And Ron said, ‘Well I’m getting to know him.’ And he said, ‘No, no, no, do you understand him when he speaks?’ ‘Well, when I was in Philly, one of the guys had a Boston accent, so I got used to him. Why do you ask?’ And he said, ‘He was in my office this afternoon and was there for five minutes and I didn’t have any idea what he was talking about.’ So maybe Boston is harder, I don’t know!”

Harder still: turning around the Panther’s blown salary cap. Gettleman did it, going, as he noted, from “shopping at the dollar store to Tiffany’s” with big deals for Luke Kuechly and Cam Newton. Fogarty asked, “Do you take any credit for Cam’s mindset this year, of being able to focus on the game and not worry about his contract or his future with Carolina?” Gettleman says, “You know, Morgan, I think that getting the contract done was helpful because, we told Cam, ‘We believe in you, we trust you, we love you. Let’s go.’ And I think for anybody, just put yourself in his position, if you’re in that same position, how much more comfortable would you be knowing, ‘I’m here. I’m gonna be a Charlottean. I’m gonna be a Panther.’ And that load off, I think is a factor and it helped him out.”

Gettleman says this Panthers team is built similarly to the other Super Bowl teams he’s been part of: they can run the ball, stop the run and rush the passer. What happens on the field is still unpredictable, but Gettleman has this promise. He says, “I think success for me is building an organization that will transcend what I do. And who I am. It’s, I told Mister (Richardson) when he hired me, I said, ‘I don’t know how this is gonna go, we don’t know. But I promise you the Carolina Panthers will be in a better place when I’m outta here than when I got here.'”