Panthers coach John Fox got to break the news face-to-face to Jake Delhomme Thursday afternoon, a conversation Delhomme admitted was “emotional.”
General manager Marty Hurney probably avoided it to keep from bawling himself, but had someplace else he had to be.
Agent Rick Smith, who’s represented Delhomme throughout his career, was working in his Chicago office building Thursday morning, preparing for the free agent period himself, and certainly not expecting the next call.
“It’s 11 yesterday morning, my time,” Smith said. “I look down at my cell, and it’s Marty’s cell. We talk all the time. So I answer, ‘Hey, Marty, what’s up.’”
“I’m in your lobby,” Hurney replied. “Come downstairs and get me.”
Smith said he was initially confused, and quickly found a conference room where they could sit and Hurney could deliver the news no one wanted to be on either end of.
“He said he just couldn’t do it over the phone,” Smith said. “So what does he do? He flies to Chicago so he can tell me to my face. To me, that tells you about the bond between the player and the team, and the character of the organization.
“Who else does that?”