Could David Tepper's latest actions turn Carolina Panthers targets away?

The situation is beyond embarrassing.

David Tepper
David Tepper / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper’s latest showing of petulance could scare away potential top head coaching and general manager candidates.

The Carolina Panthers are at an all-time low. They are the worst team in the NFL with no first-round draft selection. They have one of the worst offenses in the league despite a steady defense that has kept them in games time and time again.

All of this can be led back to the decision-making of team owner David Tepper, whose true colors have come to shine throughout the season and on New Year’s Eve at the Jacksonville Jaguars. The billionaire was shown to have allegedly thrown a drink at a fan before leaving his suite in Carolina’s first shutout loss in 21 years - a 26-0 smacking.

“DrinkGate” - coupled with other rumors surrounding Tepper and the working environment within the Panthers - have painted the former hedge fund manager as egotistical and micro-managing. With all that has occurred, it could keep the organization from landing a premier head coach candidate or general manager should Scott Fitterer be let go after the season.

David Tepper’s persona doesn't bode well for the Carolina Panthers

Outside the debacle that is Tepper, the Panthers are in a critical position from a roster perspective. The team traded up in the 2023 NFL Draft for quarterback Bryce Young, who has flashed in every game this season. He is the biggest draw for any candidate who is to interview for the head coach position - and potential front office openings.

Finding the right coach and general manager combination to begin building around Young is very critical to not just the success of the quarterback, but the organization itself. Unfortunately, Tepper’s actions since buying the Panthers for $2.2 billion and in the last 48 hours have not done him or his team any favors.

Carolina Panthers
David Tepper and Bryce Young / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This is an owner who picked a sufficient college head coach to rebuild a team that was never reconstructed. After that failed, he chose to ignore the success Steve Wilks had as interim coach and go with an offensive-minded presence whose play-calling and system was, in today’s offenses, outdated.

That experiment lasted 11 games.

Tepper is also an owner who is impulsive and impatient. Reports of being hands-on with the football operations, creating a toxic culture, and having too many yes-people could scare away a popular coaching candidate like Ben Johnson or a potential new GM like Adam Peters.

After all of these reports - regardless of what comes from “DrinkGate" - who would want to come and be a part of this organization that is run by a mirco-manging owner who will likely try and be hands-on despite his prior failings?

However, regardless of the current perception around Tepper, the amount of money he will drop for the next head coach will be enticing. Coaches and executives yearning for a chance to build and lead an NFL franchise will look at the Panthers current roster as one that can be built around.

They have a potential star under center in Young. The Panthers have great defensive cornerstones like Brian Burns, Frankie Luvu, Derrick Brown, and Jaycee Horn. That is assuming all stick around.

I’m sure that Johnson, Peters, Mike Macdonald and Mike Borgonzi would be intrigued by the talent they could construct the team around. Money won’t be a big issue for them as Tepper would likely back a Brink's truck at their homes to lure them in.

The biggest question here is if they are willing to be yes-men to the floundering owner. 

In all honesty, expectations should be lowered when it comes to who Carolina will hire for either job. The atmosphere that Tepper has created could potentially lead his franchise into a state of purgatory - if it isn’t already there.

He is 31-67 since becoming the owner. I don’t blame fans one bit for believing the team they love and cheer for is becoming the newest version of the pre-Kevin Stefanski Cleveland Browns.

Tepper has some soul-searching to do. It’s unlikely he does. His actions speak volumes. He’s worth over $20 billion. Is it really surprising he is being seen as a bad person by others? 

It is not. I would not blame Johnson or any other head coach and general managing candidate for wanting to be a part of potentially better working environments. While it is easier said than done, Tepper must set his ego aside, keep his hands off the football organization, and allow it to operate with more freedom. 

The fans of his franchise deserve better.