Once Matt Rhule had a seven-year offer from the Carolina Panthers, he knew where he wanted to be — though the reported $62 million he’s getting probably didn’t hurt either.
The length of the contract is something Rhule cited Wednesday afternoon during an energetic press conference as a reason why he committed to the Panthers before even meeting with the Giants, the New York City native content to pass on speaking with the only NFL team for which he previously worked. The Giants instead ended up hiring former Patriots assistant Joe Judge.
“I never talked to anyone but them (the Panthers),” Rhule said as he was introduced as the Panthers’ new coach. “I probably don’t want to say anything that would come across in a bad way about anybody, I just want to talk about them. But my agent talks to everybody and I’m sure he had lots of conversations. He’s representing a lot of guys probably also too that are in all these job mixes. But for me, when they offered the job, and the biggest thing I’ll say is when they offered a chance to be here for seven years, it spoke to me about the chance, the belief that we were gonna do this together and do it the right way.
“There was no doubt. There was really no doubt the night before from my family, and there was really no doubt from me after just having that synergy that we were gonna be here. My agent, I know he talks to different people, but for me the only person I talked to was Mr. [David] Tepper.”
Tepper, the Panthers owner, said he was planning for a longer coaching search, “but then we went down to Waco, Texas.” He said he and the Panthers contingent, which included general manager Marty Hurney, pulled up right behind Rhule on Monday as the then-Baylor coach and his family returned home from a weekend vacation in Mexico. Tepper said he helped Rhule’s family with their luggage before getting down to brass tax.
“We knew we had something special,” Tepper said of the interview.
Rhule said his aha moment came after the Panthers crew left his house and he spoke to his wife Julie.
“She was like, “What are you doing? You need to go work for them. That’s you,’” Rhule said. “We’ve had lots of opportunities over the years, and she’s always been right.”
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