After Failed Matt Rhule Hire, Can David Tepper Win Back Carolina Panthers Fans?

After Failed Matt Rhule Hire, Can David Tepper Win Back Carolina Panthers Fans?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

When David Tepper took over as the Carolina Panthers owner in 2018, change was in the air, especially for those interested in the future of North Carolina sports betting.

Original franchise owner Jerry Richardson had quickly sold the team following misconduct allegations, and Tepper, a former Pittsburgh Steelers minority investor, promised consistent contention from a franchise that had yet to put together back-to-back winning seasons. 

The Panthers under Richardson were a roller-coaster on the gridiron, experiencing extreme highs and lows. In 2001, the NFL team went 1-15 under George Seifert. Just two years later, the Panthers made it all the way to the Super Bowl under coach John Fox, only to suffer a heartbreaking 32-29 loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots. 

The Panthers remained mostly competitive under Fox until a 2-14 campaign in 2010 (with a revolving door at quarterback), which brought new coach Ron Rivera to the sidelines in 2011. 

Much like Fox' tenure, Rivera's reign brought the Panthers to the precipice of a Super Bowl title in 2015, only to fall short to Von Miller and the Denver Broncos. 

While Tepper made his respect clear for Rivera upon taking over the franchise in 2018, like most new pro sports owners, he wanted his own man to run the show. When Riverboat Ron got off to a 5-7 start in 2019 behind the diminishing skills of former MVP Cam Newton, Tepper made his first significant move as an NFL owner: dismissing Rivera and embarking upon a search for the franchise's next leader. 

Four seasons later, Tepper โ€” who talks a big game โ€” is finally learning how hard it is to win in the NFL. 

His hiring of popular college coach Matt Rhule (who signed a seven-year, $62 million contract with the Panthers after also receiving heavy interest from the New York Giants) completely backfired, as Rhule yielded a 11-27 record over two-plus seasons (the Panthers are now 23-47 over Tepper's entire ownership). 

Tepper dismissed Rhule after the team's Week 5 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Charlotte, bringing an end to an expensive whiff on Tepper's first coaching hire.

While those on-field results are already tough to square with a fanbase that went to the Super Bowl under both Fox and Rivera, Tepper has managed to make off-field headlines that have soured his standing with fans as well. 

Ahead of the current NFL season (before the Rhule firing in Week 6), BetCarolina.com surveyed 125 Carolina Panthers fans on the r/Panthers Reddit page through Survey Monkey to get the current approval rating of Tepper as the team's owner. 

After the failed Rock Hill training facility, the Panthers losing record in his tenure and multiple executives leaving the company, we wanted to see what fans thought about his performance so far.

As the NFL season moves along, fans and the gambling industry will have to hold out hope that NC betting apps will be able to accept sports wagers from 2023 onwards.

Tepper Has Long Way To Go With Fans

We asked 125 Panthers fans, โ€œRate David Tepper as the Panthers owner from a scale of 0 to 10 based on your approval of him. 0 being worst, 10 being best.โ€ 

After gathering the surveys, the final average of his approval rating was 3.4 out of 10

Why The Low Approval Rating?

That low approval rating for Tepper in the Carolinas may seem obvious based on the on-field results of the Panthers since 2018. 

The Panthers for the first time in team history have suffered four straight losing seasons โ€” which coincides with Tepper taking ownership of the team. A revolving door at the QB position in those years (Newton, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, countless backups and now Baker Mayfield) has stopped fans short in believing in the vision of this regime. 

But Tepper has also hurt his standing among fans with business deals away from the gridiron. 

The team's new $800 million practice facility project in Rock Hill, S.C., which would have served as the team's new headquarters, fell apart in a hugely public dispute between Tepper and the City of Rock Hill and York County. 

That failed deal, along with the sudden exodus of critical Tepper Sports & Entertainment executives over the past six months, including CEO Nick Kelly and COO Mark Hart, clearly has Panthers fans wondering who they have put their faith in for the years to come.

Now with the Rhule firing coming after Tepper was already in jeopardy with Panthers fans, the jury is out on whether he can reclaim local sentiments with a new head coach.

Should the Panthers get it together under Tepper by the time North Carolina sports betting is legalized, remember that BetCarolina will be your home for the best NC sportsbook promo codes.

Methodology

BetCarolina.com surveyed 125 Carolina Panthers fans on the r/Panthers Reddit page through Survey Monkey to get the approval rating of Panthers owner David Tepper. After the failed Rock Hill training facility, the Panthers 22-43 record in his tenure and multiple Carolina Sports executives leaving the company, we wanted to see what fans thought about his performance as owner.

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Contributors

Thomas Leary is an editor and writer for BetCarolina.com, with a focus on the Panthers, Hornets and college sports. He previously worked at Sports Business Journal.

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