Carolina won three division titles and made an appearance in Super Bowl 50 before Gettleman was unceremoniously fired by former owner Jerry Richardson before the start of the 2017 season. The Panthers were 40-23-1 with Gettleman as general manager.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera reflected on his relationship with Gettleman, who was named New York Giants general manager on Dec. 29. The Panthers and Giants face each other Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
“I really appreciated working with Dave. I like who he is as a person and as a scout,” Rivera said. “He really understands and knows players, he came in with the philosophy of we were going to bring in big guys up front because they allow you to compete and it worked for us, it worked very well for us. We’re still seeing the aftereffects of the players he brought in.”
Of course, not everyone is so complimentary of Gettleman. Some didn’t appreciate the way some veteran players were traded (Jon Beason), released (Steve Smith Sr., DeAngelo Williams) or allowed to depart in free agency (Josh Norman).
Williams was particularly venomous in his assessment of Gettleman after he was named Giants general manager.
“He’s your problem now. That’s exactly what I’d tell them,” Williams said during an interview in the week leading up to Super Bowl LII. “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.”
Gettleman was no stranger to the Giants either. He spent 13 seasons as a scout (1998), director of pro personnel (1998-2011), and a senior pro personnel analyst (2012). Gettleman returned to the Giants to restore glory and change the culture. He placed his immediate stamp on the team with a few high-profile firings and benchings.
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He hired Pat Shurmur to succeed Ben McAdoo, kept Eli Manning as the team’s starting quarterback, and drafted Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Gettleman also made Nate Solder the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman and Odell Beckham Jr. the highest-paid wide receiver in history.
The jury is still out on the results of Gettleman’s first year on the job. However, his most important battle has nothing whatsoever to do with football.
He was diagnosed with lymphoma over the summer and began treatment soon thereafter. When the Giants defeated the Houston Texans in Week 3, the game ball went to Gettleman. Doctors declared him to be in remission and he will make his first road trip of the season to face the team he led to their most successful season in franchise history.
Gettleman is not one for “let’s win one for the Gipper” speeches. However, it is fully understood by the Giants’ players what a win at Bank of America Stadium will mean to the team as a whole and their general manager on a personal level.
“I think it would mean a great deal to him, not only him, just to this organization, just to win, period,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “For him, personally, I think going back to where he just came from would mean a lot. He knows a lot of people there. He definitely wants to win.”
Solder knows something about what Gettleman is dealing with. His 3-year old son, Hudson, has been fighting kidney cancer.
“I know what he’s struggling with, and he knows what we’ve been through as a family, and we’ve been able to connect on some of those things,” Solder said. “He does a wonderful job of keeping guys to the grindstone and pushing ‘em, knowing what is at stake, and still understanding that we are human beings and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.