Gettleman: Step back with Giants was my idea

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton hurdles Philadelphia Eagles

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton hurdles Philadelphia Eagles strong safety Nate Allen to score a touchdown in the second half. (Nov. 26, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Dave Gettleman said the biggest reason he took a step back with the Giants last season was so he could take the step forward he’s taken with the Panthers.

The new general manger in Carolina was introduced today and spoke about why, last summer, he stepped down as the Giants’ director of pro personnel, a position he held since 1999, to the position of senior pro personnel analyst.

“First of all it was completely initiated by me,” Gettleman said, squashing any interpretation that he was being put out to pasture by the Giants. “I’d been in the league 25 years at that point and frankly was a little frustrated at the lack of opportunities I’d had to even interview for GM positions.”

Gettleman said he read a book several years ago called “Moving from Success to Significance” that stuck with him.

“I think without being bragging or arrogant that I’ve had a pretty successful career,” Gettleman said. “It was time for me to move to significance and part of that is thinking about legacy. As you get older … you need to think about those things. What is your legacy? I never wanted to become someone who went to work to collect a paycheck. So with that thought in mind, after the last go-around last year where there were four GM positions open and frankly I couldn’t get a sniff, I thought it was time to think about things.

“The step back was initiated by me,” Gettleman reiterated. “John Mara, Jerry Reese, and the Steve and Jonathan Tisch were very gracious when I explained it to them, that I just needed to change my focus, I needed to get a broader vision. Really what it meant was I wasn’t doing the mundane, I hate to use that word, but I wasn’t doing the day-to-day running the department things. I was able to really look at the league, take a look at how it was going, how it was changing, how things are constantly changing and if you don’t adapt you’re going to be in trouble … It just gave me a chance to broaden my focus, broaden my view, and see what was really going on in the league.”

At 61, there were some who thought Gettleman might never get a chance to be a general manager. Even Ernie Accorsi, who spearheaded the Panthers’ search, was concerned.

“He was at the doorstep of the Browns' job twice, and both times they decided to go in another direction,” Accorsi said. “Then all of the sudden I'm seeing these guys in their early to mid-30s getting hired as general managers. I was afraid that Dave was going to get into an era here where they're not going to hire somebody that old.”

Gettleman worried about that, too. Until he met with the Panthers.

“It’s about the person doing the hiring and I just needed someone who was looking for an older, mature guy,” Gettleman said. “That’s really what it came down to. That’s really what it came down to. Our culture is the next young whiz-bang is the next great thing. That’s just where we’re at as a culture. It was one of those deals where ‘he’s an old dinosaur, he’s probably cranky’ and this and that. The bottom line is it’s all about the person doing the hiring … It’s all about the fit.”

And how do the Panthers fit?

“They say good things come to those who wait,” Gettleman said, “and this is absolutely the perfect fit for me.”

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