Neither Jerry Richardson nor Marty Hurney are the kind to be swayed easily.
But if the Carolina Panthers owner and general manager ever had any reservations about their vision for the future of their team (which would be reasonable after a 2-14 season), they woke up this morning emboldened.
The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers won their way to the Super Bowl the hard way. They built winners slowly, methodically, and according to a strictly implemented plan.
Going into the opener, 36 of the players on Green Bay's 53-man roster were drafted. Pittsburgh had 35. So did the Panthers, coincidentally. Those were the top three such numbers in the NFL.
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Green Bay's historically waded carefully into free agency, with cornerback Charles Woodson in 2006 their last big splash.
Who's the biggest free agent Pittsburgh went out and bought? Ryan Clark?
The Packers have been able to withstand injuries (15 on IR), but made their way here with guys they found, not purchased.
The Steelers ran their way to the Super Bowl with an offensive line that featured five starters who weren't in the same spots last December.
Folks, this is the blueprint, this is what the Panthers want to do.
The Panthers see last season as the depth-builder that will pay dividends for the future. They watch Ben Roethlisberger making game-deciding passes to sixth-round rookie Antonio Brown and they see David Gettis.
Once there's a CBA, the Panthers aren't going to spend their hard-saved dollars on one or two guys. They're going to reinvest in their own. They're then going to fill in the blanks with role players, the way they've always done.
That's good news for guys such as Thomas Davis and Ryan Kalil and Charles Johnson. That's bad news for fans who look at lists of free agents and daydream about this guy or that guy and the difference he could make.
Honestly, their own past has pointed them in this direction. Look back at their history, and they've gotten far more out of fringe signings such as Jake Delhomme, Stephen Davis, Ricky Proehl and Mark Fields than headline-grabbers such as Ken Lucas and Keyshawn Johnson.
The thing the Packers and Steelers have that the Panthers do not is a quarterback, and that's the biggest hurdle this team faces. Until or unless Jimmy Clausen grows into something he has not shown himself to be, they're going to struggle. And they're likely going to have to find a stop-gap veteran to allow Clausen the chance to learn.
But otherwise, what the Panthers saw Sunday afternoon and night is what they want to be.
They want to be home-grown. They want to be stable. They want to be about the structure rather than the style.
The plan's in place, and as Sunday showed, the plan is valid.
Now the Panthers just have to be patient, trust their plan, and fill in the bricks and mortar as well as their role models have.
-- Darin Gantt