I worked with Marty Hurney in the early 1980s, when we were both sportswriters at The Washington Times. I covered boxing and college basketball mostly; Hurney was the best beat reporter in Washington, D.C. We were an upstart paper making headway in the Nation’s Capital.
Hurney is a congenial guy who was very good at his job. He was not a wordsmith, but as a reporter, he pummeled The Washington Post, breaking Redskins-related news multiple times a week. He was a reporter’s reporter, an unrelenting, gruff pursuer of news and information. And he got the news and information ahead of The Post, a journalistic empire.
Around the same time I took a job in New York, Hurney took one in San Diego. And before long, he was on the staff of the San Diego Chargers as an assistant general manager under Bobby Beathard, one of the most respected GMs of all time.
Eventually, Hurney made a ground-breaking move: He was hired as general manager of the Carolina Panthers. From there, he became the general manager of the Carolina Panthers, completing a rise to pro sports’ executive level that no sportswriter I can think of had done at the time.
Hurney was a trailblazer, a rarity of a sports journalist who ascended to upper management in the sport he used to cover. Pretty remarkable.
Monday, he was fired by the Panthers, which was sad and unjust. How the GM can be the blame for Cam Newton’s lack of development this season and overall personnel underachieving? Weak move by Carolina.
Panthers defensive lineman Charles Johnson agreed, and Tweeted: “”Marty wasn’t the reason we are losing! That’s bs! Unbelievable! Marty might be the realist GM that I know#InMyMind BS BS BS BS!”
And here’s Steve Smith, the Panther star receiver: “I always will, I always have respected Marty as a man and also as a GM. He’s made some tough decisions. Marty and Mr. (Jerry) Richardson (Panthers’ owner), I think neither party thought this day would come in the middle of the season like this.”
I rooted for Marty’s teams because Marty was the best example that sports journalists are the best and most diverse talents in the industry. Did he blow some draft choices? No more than any other GM. He got the Panthers to the Super Bowl and made them a perennial contender. He made sportswriters around the country proud.
But there is another sportswriter in professional sports management: David Khan, who I used to shoot hoops with when he covered the NBA for the Oregonian in Portland, Ore., is the president of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yes, I root for the T-Wolves.