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Hello, CSR. Good riddance, Brad.

A look at where we’ve been and where we hope to go.

Panthers fire GM Dave Gettleman David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Hello, Cat Scratch Reader. Today marks my first day as the Managing Editor (SB Nation would like me to say ‘Brand Manager’) here at Cat Scratch Reader. Our former Dear Leader, Bradley Smith, posted his farewell yesterday and y’all should all head over there to say your happy goodbyes.

As Brad told our staff a couple of weeks ago when he announced his decision to step down, “Y’all will be in good… well, y’all will be in hands. Walker is taking over.”

I am making it my mission to live up to those lofty expectations. We’re keeping long time contributors Brian Beversluis, and D.A. Sweat, and Jonathan DeLong. Jon is stepping up to take over my old role as the #2 on the site. We’ll also be looking to hire new talent soon, so keep an eye out for that post in the next week or so.

I’ve been writing for Cat Scratch Reader since 2013 when, at the invitation of James Dator, I turned my joke persona from the comments section—for those of y’all who recall Terrible Metaphor Guy—into a regular appearance. That grew into me writing nonfictional things about the Panthers and then into being Brad’s right hand man when he took over the blog in 2017. I would like to say it was an honor and a privilege to work with him for so long, and it was, but my honor and privileges are nothing compared to the long suffering of Panthers fans everywhere.

Ever since Brad took over CSR in July of 2017, the Panthers have been on a breakneck pace of major organizational change that has left the franchise in relative shambles. News most often would break at the least convenient time, personally, for Brad or the rest of us. Below is a timeline of major events, with the hirings, firings, namings as interim, and change of team ownership in bold.

2017

July 12 - Brad takes over CSR
July 17 - Dave Gettleman fired
July 19 - Marty Hurney named interim GM
Nov 1 - Marty Hurney’s interim tenure extended through 2018 free agency, draft
December 17 - Jerry Richardson’s multiple scandals broke in SI article
December 18 - Jerry Richardson put the team up for sale

2018

January 11 - Hired Norv Turner as offensive coordinator
February 21 - Marty Hurney removed ‘interim’ title, named general manager
May 15 - Jerry Richardson sells to David Tepper for $2.2 billion

2019

January 24 - Cam Newton had shoulder surgery
December 3 - Fired Ron Rivera
December 3 - Perry Fewell named interim head coach
December 4 - Cam Newton had foot surgery

2020

January 7 - Hire Matt Rhule
March 17 - Gave Cam Newton permission to seek a trade when he didn’t want to go
March 21 - Signed Teddy Bridgewater
March 24 - Released Cam Newton
December 21 - Fired Marty “Meatballs” Hurney

2021

January 14 - Hired Scott Fitterer
April 5 - Traded for Sam Darnold
April 28 - Traded Teddy Bridgewater away
April 30 - Picked up Sam Darnold’s 5th year option
November 10 - Placed Sam Darnold on IR
November 11 - Re-signed Cam Newton
December 5 - Fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady

2022

March 16 - Cam Newton became a free agent again
October 10 - Fired Matt Rhule
October 10 - Steve Wilks named interim head coach
October 21 - Traded Christian McCaffrey away

2023

January 26 - Hired Frank Reich
March 10 - Traded with the Chicago Bears for the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft
March 15 - Sam Darnold became a free agent
April 27 - Drafted Bryce Young with the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft
November 27 - Fired Frank Reich
November 27 - Chris Tabor named interim head coach

2024

January 8 - Fired Scott Fitterer
January 8 - Dan Morgan named interim general manager
January 23 - Promoted Dan Morgan
January 25 - Hired Dave Canales
January 31 - Hired Brandt Tilis as EVP of football operations
February 1 - Brad is finally gone

It has been a busy seven years under Brad’s stewardship. Put another way, I’m crossing my fingers that he takes his luck with him. I hope you all join me in saying ‘good riddance’ to that.

All jokes aside, it has truly been a wild time to be a Panthers fan. We can all forgive Brad for losing patience with them. The Carolina Panthers have not had a calendar year since 2016 without the hiring, firing, or naming as interim of a head coach, the hiring. firing, or naming as interim of a general manager, or the sale of the team. That kind of instability has shown up on and off the field as the team has struggled to perform or set reasonable expectations for their performance (see Reich, Frank and the All-Star staff).

Hope springs eternal that Morgan and Canales can steady the ship going forwards. We certainly don’t know that they can’t. But most Panthers fans have adopted a “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach. That approach, which I have also adopted, has led to the death of the Monday Morning Optimist and a much less credulous tone overall in our coverage here.

We’re going to strive to continue giving y’all both unvarnished facts and our opinions about them as distinct presentations. It is important to know the nuts and bolts of what is going on and we hope that y’all want to hear what we think about those things as well. It’s not enough to be a community that just reports the news, nor is it sufficient to present only our own angles. By making space for both, I hope to keep alive the heart that made the Cat Scratch Reader community what it is. We may have lost staff, commenters, and entire seasons along the way, but CSR remains a place to learn, joke, commiserate, and argue in good faith. None of that is going to change during my tenure here.

After six consecutive losing seasons under Brad’s seven years of leadership, that community is all we have left. We have to keep each other afloat with a raft of facts, sarcasm, and outright parody. So on we go.

Brad, we’ll truly miss you and you know that you are always welcome back to discuss the latest punter signing or even just to laugh at us for still being here.

I hope we’re only a winning season away from actually having fun again. But until then, who do you think was the better running back, DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart?