Gettleman was familiar to the Giants, having previously served as the team’s director of pro personnel (1999-2011) and senior pro personnel analyst (2012). He left the Giants in 2013 to become the general manager of the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were very successful with Gettleman as general manager. They went 40-23-1, winning three consecutive NFC South titles (2013-15) and appearing in Super Bowl 50. Quarterback Cam Newton was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2015 and head coach Ron Rivera was the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015.
Gettleman was surprisingly fired by the Panthers last summer before the start of training camp. It was said he had a conflict when owner Jerry Richardson. At least one former Panther was happy to see Gettleman get a pink slip: running back DeAngelo Williams.
Williams didn’t mince words during an interview Wednesday on “Boomer and Gio” on Radio Row at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. He had a special message for the Giants’ players, particularly the veterans.
“He’s your problem now. That’s exactly what I’d tell them,” Williams said. “For the vet players that are there now, be very cautious. Once he gets his guys in there, then he develops that relationship with them, and not developing a relationship with the guys that are already there because he doesn’t know them.”
Williams was selected by the Panthers with the 27th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career in Carolina, where he led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2008. Williams is the franchise’s second all-time leading rusher (6,846) and is ranked third all-time in rushing touchdowns (46).
Williams was not only critical of the way Gettleman handled his contract situation but also that of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards (12,197 yards) and receiving touchdowns (67).
Both Williams and Smith were released after the 2014 season.
”When you’re down in that locker room you are family…if I’m friends with you or I’m a family member of yours, when I call you into the office to release you, I handle it in a family member type way,” Williams said. “Like, ‘Hey, we really appreciate everything you’ve done for this organization, really loved everything you’re doing,’ it’s more like breaking up with your girlfriend, ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ Whatever excuses you give.
“When you come into an office somebody handling business, ‘Hey man, you’re gone.’ Like, wait, what? … Nine years. I been here for nine years, I played through injuries … I give everything you possibly can for an organization and the way they let you go is ‘Hey man, you’re out of here.’ They let Steve go through a text message.”
Williams played two seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers after his release by the Panthers and is currently a free agent. He was also vexed that “nobody” from the Panthers organization attended the funeral of his mother.
Williams, Smith, and other players cut by the Panthers during Gettleman’s tenure took to social media to celebrate when Gettleman was let go. Williams referred to Gettleman as “a snake”, summing his feelings in an interview on WFAN in just four words: “I don’t like him.”
Gettleman’s reputation for pragmatism is not lost on the Giants. It is one of the reasons why Kevin Abrams, who was interim general manager after Reese’s firing, was retained by the team. Abrams will primarily be handling the Giants’ contract negotiations.
Dave Gettleman was brought to the Giants to bring the team back to the upper echelon of the NFL. He has a potential Hall of Fame quarterback in Eli Manning and one of the league’s most dynamic players in Odell Beckham Jr.
Both Manning and Beckham are fan favorites. Gettleman should remember what happened to Reese when Ben McAdoo decided to bench Manning and end the second longest consecutive start streak for a quarterback in NFL history. If he doesn’t want to be on the unemployment line, Gettleman might need to realize there are times to check his expediency at the door.
However, it didn’t take long for Gettleman to throw the proverbial hammer down. He released embattled offensive lineman Bobby Hart after Hart refused to play in the regular season finale. Gettleman also benched Ereck Flowers, a former first-round pick and mercurial offensive lineman.