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David Tepper says Panthers will try to win, impairment to draft status be damned

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons dive into the Panthers' decision to fire Matt Rhule, analyzing the timeline of the situation, why transitioning to the NFL level is so challenging for college coaches and more.

The NFL’s approach to tanking can be summarized like this: We know you do it, just don’t talk about it.

On Monday, Panthers owner David Tepper wisely didn’t talk about it during his press conference regarding the firing of coach Matt Rhule.

Asked by Darin Gantt of how Tepper balances the team’s current draft position (No. 1 overall) with winning games, Tepper said exactly what he should have said.

“There’s no way that every day you can’t go in with a winning attitude, and there’s no other way to be,” Tepper said. “You have to try to win, all the time. You have to try to win for the players. You have to try to win for the fans. And, yes, I understand what it is about draft picks and getting quarterbacks and stuff like that, and I understand the importance of quarterbacks in this league. But you have to try to win always.”

More accurately, you have to always say you have to try to win always. Whether you actually are trying to win, at the expense of drafting lower, is a different issue.

Many would say that the avoidance of tanking is less about avoiding issues with 345 Park Avenue and more about the overall culture of the team. That there can never be a winning culture if the organization isn’t fully committed in every way, shape, and form to winning.

But the Panthers currently don’t have a winning culture. Tepper said so. That’s one of the main reasons why Rhule is gone. They’re trying to get one. So it could be tempted to continue to let the current culture take its course, and then to pivot to a winning mindset next year, when a new coach is hired.