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David Tepper defends his time as Carolina Panthers owner, introduces new coach

David Tepper at a podium
Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper addresses the media on Nov. 28, 2023, a day after firing head coach Frank Reich.

The Carolina Panthers under owner David Tepper are on their sixth head coach, after firing Frank Reich and upgrading special teams coordinator Chris Tabor to interim head coach.

On Tuesday, Tepper held a brief news conference to address Reich’s firing and defend his own record. Throughout Tepper’s ownership, the Panthers have not had a winning season and are 30-63 since he bought the team in 2018.

“Obviously, that record is not good enough,” Tepper said. “You know, there's no hiding it. It is what it is like everything in this sport, everything's left on the field, you, everybody knows what it is every week. That record’s the record and like I said, it's not good enough.”

Between the Panthers and soccer team Charlotte FC, Tepper has developed a reputation for being short on patience with coaches. Before Reich’s dismissal, former Charlotte FC coach Christian Lattanzio was fired after leading the team to its first playoff appearance and losing a Wild Card matchup against the New York Red Bulls.

Tepper said he thinks he has patience — but not the same level when it comes to on-field performances.

“I do have patience, my reputation away from this game for extreme patience,” Tepper said. “Now that patience comes with good performance and things that you want to see progress being made on, on different aspects. And as you know, as I said, you know, I would like to have somebody (coach) here for 20, 30 years.”

Tepper declined to address specific reasons for firing Reich.

"We just moved on yesterday, and that's that," he said.

He also pointed out the greater number of concerts and other events he’s brought to Bank of America Stadium since taking over.

Interim coach speaks

Tabor, the interim coach, was hired by former Panthers head coach Matt Rhule in 2022 as the special teams coordinator. Following Tabor’s time as a coach in college football, he joined the Chicago Bears coaching staff in 2008 as an assistant special teams coach. Tabor also worked as a special teams coordinator for the Cleveland Browns from 2011 to 2017.

During Tabor’s second coaching stint with the Bears, he made his NFL head coach debut for one game against the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. The Bears lost 33-22. During the press conference, Tabor said his sole game as a head coach showed him a different type of coaching. He said he’s ready to take over the Panthers.

“I have my special teams area now and, and, and really just kind of expand everything, you know, I have to oversee offense and defense and game, game management, but those are a lot of things that I'm always doing anyway,” Tabor said.

“It’s just now I just have to have a little bit more of a peripheral view.”

Hours after being named interim head coach, Tabor made his first personnel changes after parting ways with assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown.

“I made that decision and those are always tough decisions,” Tabor said

The changes will leave Parks Frazier as the quarterback coach. Coach Jim Caldwell will be special advisor to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. Brown will return to play calling and will also become the running backs coach.

The Panthers are 1-10 on the season so far and have a slim chance of making the postseason. Tabor said he’s focused on putting the team in the right direction for the rest of the season.

“I think obviously everything that we're always trying to do is put ourselves in position to win games,” Tabor said. “And that's what we're working on. I mean, really what we're doing right now. And I know it's very cliche, but there's, there's a process and today's Tuesday's process, we got to win today to set us up for tomorrow.”

If the Panthers decide to look for a permanent head coach outside of the organization, they’ll have to wait until after the divisional round of the playoffs ends to conduct in-person interviews.

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.