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Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper heads ‘Hunger Games’ culture within organization

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has come under fire a lot recently after firing head coach Frank Reich a mere 11 games into his tenure.

Previous reports indicated that Tepper headed a culture of pettiness within the Panthers’ organization. That included purposely mispronouncing Reich’s name. “It’s his way of putting people in their place,” a source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk recently.

A new report from Joseph Person and Dianna Russini of The Athletic delves even deeper into what we’re seeing in Carolina right now. It’s not great.

“The Athletic spoke to more than 20 Panthers coaches, players and other league sources, some of whom were granted anonymity so they could speak freely. They painted a picture of dysfunction inside the Panthers’ offices, with assistant coaches undermining other coaches as many went into self-preservation mode when it became clear Reich’s days were numbered.”

Report on Carolina Panthers dysfunction under David Tepper

Team sources expanded on this, indicating that it’s a “Hunger Games” culture within the Panthers’ organization. That is to say, everyone looking out for No. 1.

None of this should really come as too much of a surprise. Tepper’s reputation was well-known when the billionaire purchased the Panthers back in 2008. That is to say, leading cutthroat cultures in the past.

Related: Carolina Panthers head coach candidates

Carolina Panthers struggles under David Tepper

carolina panthers head coach david tepper
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Since Tepper officially purchased the Panthers back in July of 2018, the team has posted a 30-64 record without a single winning season or playoff appearance. Including interim head coaches, the Panthers are currently on their sixth. If that doesn’t speak to dysfunction, we’re not sure what does.

Tepper’s hands-on approach has also seemingly played a major role in this.

“Tepper has been criticized for micromanaging and getting hands-on with football decisions,” The Athletic’s report read. “Prior to the 2019 season, he persuaded then-head coach Ron Rivera to switch to a 3-4 defense — which Tepper was familiar with as a former Pittsburgh Steelers minority partner — and drove the team’s interest in Deshaun Watson before the quarterback was traded to Cleveland in 2022.”

It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that the Panthers’ on-field struggles have coincided with the behind-the-scenes drama that’s now becoming public record.

The larger question moving forward is whether his presence atop the organization will have an impact on the Panthers’ head coach search this coming offseason. It could very well narrow down the field of interested candidates.

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