David Tepper’s 2018 Panthers Purchase And Takeover Is “Statistically The Worst Of The Century” Data Shows
Oh how I can talk about my feelings on David Tepper’s time as owner of the Carolina Panthers. I’m going to preface this entire article with the fact that I am a die-hard football fan. I live for fall and weekends full of nothing but football. I’ve grown up in Charlotte with the Panthers, and even remember being in pre-school watching the stadium being built. I cried in middle school when they lost the Super Bowl to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Loved being uptown around the stadium for the magical 2015 season. Needless to say, I’ve always been a Panthers fan through and through. But, while I still watch pretty much every game, I have sort of lost interest in the last few years. I don’t have the same emotional investment that I once did for the home team. Perhaps it’s the lack of familiar faces or the terrible seasons we’ve had of late. But honestly, the biggest factor in my opinion is David Tepper.
So when I was sent this study that found that David Tepper’s 2018 purchase of the Carolina Panthers is “statistically the worst of the century”, I couldn’t click read fast enough. I’ve said often it’s been the worst thing to happen to the Carolina Panthers. And I will stand by that statement until I’m proven wrong. It’s nice to see data confirming opinions, however. I like most Americans am a victim of confirmation bias. The study was conducted by Sports Geek who posted the question, ” Statistically, what is the worst sporting takeover/investment of the last 100 years across the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB?”
To figure it out, Sports Geek’s team analyzed three key factors:
- On-field performance
- Championship victories/titles
- Team value
This data led to David Tepper’s takeover of the Carolina Panthers being labeled the worst of the century. Let’s look at this by each of those metrics. First on-field performance. During the three seasons before the purchase (2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18), the Carolina Panthers win percentage was 66.7%. In the three seasons afterward (2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21), the Panthers’ win percentage was 30.6%. That’s a drop of over 1/3 or 36.1%. No wonder fan interest has declined. Major Championships won? That’s easy the Panthers, while getting close a few times, have never won the Super Bowl. (And I have a hard time believing that will ever happen under Tepper’s leadership). And finally, team value. The Panthers have appreciated in value from Tepper’s purchased price of $2.3 billion. The team currently has an estimated value of $3.6 billion according to Sports Geek. But that appreciation wasn’t enough to knock David Tepper’s purchase of the Panthers off the top of the list.
Tepper’s Journey With The Panthers
Tepper bought the team in 2018 and almost immediately started ruffling feathers. He fired coach Ron Rivera after being in control for one season. That season was admittedly bad but not all of it was the fault of Rivera. Quarterback Cam Netwon was let go (after suffering multiple injuries), just a few seasons after being the league MVP. Tepper, keen on being involved, hired his guy. A college coach, Matt Rhule, from Baylor, who had zero NFL experience and had only had one great season at Baylor. They went out and got Teddy Bridgewater, a quarterback who had bounced around from team to team for a few seasons. And this, this was the golden plan. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know it didn’t work. It didn’t work the next year either, with any of the quarterbacks on the Carolina QB Carousel.
After two seasons of a measly 5 wins, Tepper did not cave to public pressure to fire the coach. Instead, he traded draft picks and players to land yet another quarterback who had failed in other systems. Matt Rhule and the Panthers started the 2022 season 1-4 and finally, finally, did I say finally? Matt Rhule was fired. Steve Wilkes who was beloved in the Carolinas for his connections with the team and the area stepped in as interim coach. And he did a pretty decent job with what he had. In the last game of the season, the Panthers were one win away from the playoffs. Ultimately they didn’t get the win, and Wilkes did not get the permanent head coaching job. This was despite the wishes of the fans and numerous players. I have to say, while I appreciate what Wilkes did and who he is, I actually agree with Tepper’s decision.
What Comes Next?
We are at such a pivotal place in the trajectory of the Carolina Panthers. You have lifelong fans like myself, who just aren’t emotionally invested. We needed a coach who has proven success in the league. We just aren’t in the position to take a chance. Tepper ultimately hired Frank Reich for the job. Only time will tell if that was a good move. I’m not thrilled with the selection but neither am I disappointed. I’ll withhold judgment until I see the product put on the field.
The lack of success and questionable hires are only part of why the Charlotte community isn’t too fond of Tepper. There is also the Rock Hill practice facility debacle, the firing of a winning Charlotte FC coach, and his pulling out of the Eastland Mall project. He’s made statements saying he “brought live music to Charlotte”. And while we didn’t have many stadium shows prior to his arrival, there has always been a thriving concert scene. I’ve spent years working in it. Numerous Tepper Sports and Entertainment high-ranking employees have resigned. Then of course there is the uncertainty surrounding a potential new stadium, or if Tepper would relocate the team. Needless to say, with all the money Tepper has, it might be time to hire someone to work on his personal PR.
Do you agree that David Tepper’s takeover of the Panthers is the worst of the century? You can read the full article and see some of the other purchases he beat out for the title here. I’d like to say I’m optimistic about the upcoming season, but it’s hard to get your hopes up when the outcome has been the same for so long. Prove me wrong Panthers. I’ll be the first to admit it.