CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - In just 10 short months, David Tepper as made a huge difference as the new owner of the Carolina Panthers and in a lot of ways has been a breathe of fresh air for the entire organization.
“Within this organization, even the people who have worked here a long time, everyone could kind of breathe,” said Joe Person of the Athletic.
Person has covered the team for 10 years and says the biggest difference by far has been in facilities.
25 of 32 NFL teams currently have indoor practice facilities. You can make that 26 soon as work is ongoing to put a bubble over the current practice facility. Plans are also in the works for a new team headquarters potentially in South Carolina. But also give a tip of the hat to Tepper for some forward thinking.
“One of my early meetings with him, he talked about tying in with the new transportation center in uptown,” said Person. “You might have fans with the ability to jump on a train from Raleigh and be here in two and half hours. That kind of stuff is where he is really making his mark.”
Speaking of forward thinking and the future, the NFL Draft starts Thursday.
“I think he’s very excited,” said Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. “Ron (Rivera) and I communicate with him all the time. Everyday, about everything and not just the draft.”
One of those conversations could be on the future of QB Cam Newton.
“David Tepper has a huge decision to make on Cam Newton coming in the next year and a half,” said Person. “He’s under contract through 2020. If you see the Panthers go out and draft a QB in the 2nd round, I think that’s a message not necessarily that Cam is on the way out but that they are preparing for that potential.”
But the Panthers say that they really aren’t focusing on QB.
“I don’t think we have spent any more time on QB than we have in the past," said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
“I’m not sure that is the case,” Person said. “Everytime you turn around, Norv Turner or Scott Turner were at Clayton Thorsun’s Pro Day or Will Grier’s Pro Day or they had Jarrett Stidham from Auburn in here on a private visit so very important draft like every year but especially this year.”