Right or Wrong, Gettleman has Gone Wild

The Yankee did it! Steve Smith’s agent reported yesterday that the organization was parting ways with the Panther legend. Today, the Carolina Panthers officially cut future hall of fame wide receiver Steve Smith.

For the last two weeks, Panther fans have stood in the social media fields ready to storm the Bastille if the Panthers cut Steve Smith. Fans have protested, pleaded, and threatened revolution. The pitchforks were out, and all eyes are now on the king’s manager Dave Gettleman. He did it though.  He cut the legend, and the organization still stands — in tumult, but it still stands.


Cutting Steve Smith, the greatest Panther, is clearly unpopular with Panther fans. Fans, myself included, have protested the idea from the beginning.  Local sports radio host, Jim Celania even threatened to quit his job when this story first started to circulate.

I’ve wished this story away from the beginning.  In the face of cautionary voices, intimate with the organization, I derided this story as sensationalism.  Here it is though. I was in denial. I wasn’t alone though.


Fans pleaded desperately to owner Jerry Richardson and GM Dave Gettleman.  They cited Smith’s value beyond his offensive production as an emotional leader.  He has been the only player close to a superstar, other than maybe Julius Pepper, prior to the arrival of Cam Newton. He is too important to the team and to the fan base.

Gettleman, who has been adored to this point by the fans, faces an agitated mob calling for his head.  

Shouts from the fields were ignored in the end. The king's manager showed his real power by, not only cutting Smith in the face of mass upheaval, but cunningly demonizing the people's hero in the process. Strangely it emerged that Smith was not cut for financial reasons, but because he was a team disruption and an obstacle moving forward. The emotional leader and guy who everyone loved (until today when his detractors now courageously began to speak up) was a divisive force who was preventing the new stars from taking leadership roles. 

The carpetbagger has to have a plan right?  I mean this McNutts! Cutting arguably the team’s best offensive weapon to save a modest amount of money because he is a little salty is  just hard to understand.  I mean just all of the sudden it’s Steve Smith that is the problem with the team’s anemic offense?  He’s so divisive that the team as a whole is suffering from his presence in the locker room?

The King’s Manager

In Gettleman's first year as GM, he demonstrated he isn't a dummy. He hypnotized fans with his Gettlemagic, when he pieced together a few shiny parts with worn and discarded pieces, such as Quentin Mikel, Drayton Florence, Mike Mitchell, and Ted Ginn, Jr.

Gettleman became a hero among the people. He showed a focus and portrayed a strength the organization desperately needed. He was all business, working tirelessly to repair the king's finances and correcting the gross mismanagement of his predecessor, Marty Hurney.  

The troops and people embraced Gettleman's reforms, praising his fiscal focus and personnel wizardry. Gettleman had mesmerized the kingdom. His most recent decree, cutting Steve Smith, has been met with more than resistance, however.  The masses threaten revolt.

Gettleman has heard the petitions. He has disregarded their pleas, and stood fast against the threat of upheaval. Did he make a sound organizational decision or has he also become mesmerized by his own Gettlemagic?  Does Gettleman want to establish a no nonsense, all business culture like the New England, where no one player will steer the organization’s direction?  Or is he an egomaniac that found Smith personally problematic?

Executing the people's hero wasn't a financial necessity. In fact, the financial gains seems near inconsequential. Cutting Smith only saved the organization about 2 million dollars in cap space in 2014, assuming the cut came prior to the 2015 season.  This figure inflates  when you account for the total savings if he had played the life of his contract (10 million).  But Gettleman could have kept the people's hero one more season before the serious financial burdens kicked in.  There’s something more to this than money.  It seemed such a cold, but personal move.  If it wasn't meant to be, it sure came across the wrong way.  

Even if this was a well intended move that was just botched from a public relations standpoint, Gettelman isn’t dumb. He may have stood firm against threats of revolt today, but he is too smart, too calculating, to not understand the importance of public sentiment.  True tyrants understand the power of the people's support.  Gettleman will surely attempt to  conjure more Gettlemagic to quell the masses. He will work to win their devotion back.

Gettleman hasn't lost the support of everyone. His faithful followers have mobilized since the announcement, reminding that needed reform never comes easy. Moving the organization into the future will require a calm, strategic focus void of the emotion attached to past nostalgia. Gettleman faithful are calling for the people's patience, letting Gettleman implement the grand plan.  

There has to be a plan right?  This couldn’t just be a simple pissing contest.  Well there better be, and it better be a visionary one. Because if it is just a piece a roster of 1 year warriors together hoping the Panthers defense can hold opponents to 13 points, the people will burn kill all of the king’s men.   

The Plan:

Whatever it takes! Gettleman has shown the masses there is no sacred ground in Carolina that will prevent his moving the Panthers towards consistent, long-term success.  He has repeatedly stated his singular goal—establishing a winning culture. Right now Panther fans are having trouble seeing the vision though.  His cool certainty wants to make us believe there is a master plan, but the vision remains unclear.  

The last two weeks have made it obvious that Gettleman isn’t susceptible to public pressure, but certainly he can’t be oblivious to public approval entirely. Gettleman will need to do some damage control quick if he wants to quell the masses enough to prevent his sacking if his master plans proves less than masterly.  Remember, coach of the year Ron Rivera was nearly fired in week 3 and has only had one winning season in his career.  It’s not like he has Bill Cowher type resume.  A losing season could easily dub Rivera a flash in the pan and leave Gettleman calling for his head to deflect criticism.  

Gettleman will need to be deliberate and bold in the coming months. Here’s what I think it will take for Gettleman to repair this public relations debacle.

  1. Sign Greg Hardy to a long-term deal. (establish the vision offensively)
  2. Sign Cam Newton to a long-term deal. (establish the vision defensivel)
  3. Sign Hakeem Nicks to 1 yr deal. (short term damage control)
  4. Draft a franchise receiver in the 1st round. (sign vision to come)

Now this is a pretty insane plan that would be extremely difficult to pull off.  I’m guessing one commenters will quickly deem impossible.   The point is that it is going to take something radical for Gettleman to repair his public opinion rating.  He is a wanted man in Charlotte right now. The masses are restless and watching his every move.

Gettleman has committed radical change in the Carolinas. He’s rolled the dice.--Let’s hope he has the hot hand, rather than beginner’s luck.  

We won’t find out for a while.  He has some time to execute his master plan.  Panther fans are watching Gettleman closely now.  Gettleman could pacify the masses, but Smith has made his desire for revenge more than clear.  Warning that “blood and guts” would be everywhere, Smith defined the stakes.  Despite the success or failure of Gettleman’s master plan, rest assure he will forever look like this when in the same room as the greatest Carolina Panther ever, Steve Smith.