CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Marty Hurney on Friday was reinstated as the interim general manager of the Carolina Panthers after the NFL informed the team that a two-week investigation revealed no evidence that Hurney harassed his ex-wife.
He remains the front-runner to be named the full-time GM, according to a league source. An announcement could come Monday, if not sooner.
Hurney was placed on paid administrative leave three days after Jeanne Hurney filed the complaint in a Charlotte court on Feb. 2. The complaint was withdrawn four days later, but the NFL followed through with its own investigation under the personal conduct policy.
Former New York City sex crime prosecutor Lisa Friel headed the investigation.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said the league reviewed all available law enforcement and court records and sworn testimony in prior proceedings in addition to interviewing Hurney and members of the Panthers.
“We also requested an interview with Mr. Hurney’s former wife, which was declined through her attorney,” McCarthy said. “Our investigation identified no evidence to support an allegation of domestic violence or similar conduct that would constitute a violation of the personal conduct policy.”
Kathleen Lucchesi, Hurney’s attorney, said it’s “been a very long two weeks for Marty and his family.”
Hurney has since remarried.
“In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to overcome suspicion, defend yourself and clear your name once the court of public opinion gets ahold of a false narrative,” Lucchesi said. “The public scrutiny can be devastating and unrelenting. In this case, it was also unnecessary.”
The Panthers also interviewed Buffalo assistant director of scouting Lake Dawson, Houston Texans assistant general manager Jimmy Raye III and Martin Mayhew, senior personnel executive with San Francisco, for the full-time general manager job.
All three are minority candidates, fulfilling the league’s rule that teams have to interview at least one minority candidate for general manager and head-coaching positions.
Dawson was brought in for a second interview.
But Hurney, who was named the interim GM the week before training camp after Dave Gettleman was fired, has been the front-runner throughout the process, according to sources.
The team had tentative plans to announce the new general manager two weeks ago before the allegations were made against Hurney but put them on hold while the NFL investigated.
Hurney’s ex-wife withdrew the complaint after the judge denied a temporary restraining order during an ex parte hearing in which only Jeanne and her attorney appeared.
Hurney informed the team of the complaint two days later, and the team informed the league office.
This all came about two months after the NFL opened an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct by team owner Jerry Richardson. A December article in Sports Illustrated said at least four former employees were paid to keep quiet about allegations of sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur directed at a former team scout.
Lucchesi told ESPN.com at the time that the allegations against her client were “absolute fiction” and part of a continued trend of allegations since the Hurneys began divorce proceedings in 2013.
The divorce became official in January 2014.
On Friday, Lucchesi said how thankful her client was that the NFL conducted a “thorough investigation” and gave Hurney a chance to clear himself.
“He is also grateful for the continued confidence and support of the Panthers organization,” Lucchesi said. “Marty is looking forward to getting back to the work of building a strong and successful Panthers team for the 2018 season.”
Lions releasing running back Kerryon Johnson, per reports
Detroit drafted the former Auburn standout in the second round in 2018. Johnson became expendable after the team drafted D’Andre Swift No. 35 overall in 2020, signed free agent running back Jamaal Williams in March and drafted Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson last week.
Johnson ran for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns over three seasons. He also has 61 career receptions for 527 yards and three scores.
Last year, he had 181 yards rushing and two scores on 52 carries. and had 19 receptions for 187 yards receiving and a touchdown.
NFL Network first reported that Johnson would be waived.
The Lions also added a player in free agency, signing tight end Darren Fells on Wednesday. The move gives the team a veteran at the position it can put on the field with Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson.
The 35-year-old Fells has 123 career catches with 1,483 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns. The previous two years in Houston, he had a combined 55 catches for 653 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Fells has started 76 games — including 13 with the Lions in 2017 — and played in 102 games with Arizona, Detroit, Cleveland and the Texans. He was a rebounding standout at UC Irvine and played basketball in Argentina, Mexico, Belgium, Finland and France before playing in the NFL.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
QB Blaine Gabbert re-signing with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 1-year, $2.5 million deal, source says
TAMPA, Fla. — Once again, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has kept his word.
Days after saying the Bucs would work to re-sign Tom Brady’s top backup, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the team is indeed re-signing Gabbert to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Gabbert, who has played in 60 career games with 48 starts, previously earned $1.187 million in 2020 and $1.6 million in 2019.
Last season, Gabbert, 31, completed 9 of 16 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, with all but one of those pass attempts coming in the second half against the Detroit Lions in Week 16, when Arians opted to rest Brady.
The Bucs selected quarterback Kyle Trask in the second round of the NFL draft last week, but Arians said that would not preclude them from re-signing Gabbert. The team also re-signed Ryan Griffin, who was last year’s third-string backup, earlier this offseason.
Gabbert enters his third season with the Bucs, after spending 2018 with the Tennessee Titans, 2017 with Arians and the Arizona Cardinals, 2014-16 with the San Francisco 49ers and 2011-13 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Gabbert has had an eventful offseason. In addition to attending the Kentucky Derby with Brady and Griffin on Saturday, he married longtime sweetheart Bekah Mills in Paradise Valley, Arizona, in March.
NFL sends memo reminding clubs the league will not pay players who suffer injuries away from facilities
The NFL reminded teams Wednesday that they are not obligated to pay players who suffer an injury away from the team facility, an issue that moved this week to the center of an ongoing dispute between the NFL and NFL Players Association over in-person participation in offseason workouts.
The memo, obtained by ESPN, was prompted by several prominent players who were surprised by media reports about Denver Broncos offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James, who tore an Achilles tendon this week while working out on his own and could miss the 2021 season. NFL contracts have long classified such injuries as “non-football,” because they happen away from the team environment, and they are not covered by typical injury guarantees. As a result, the Broncos could withhold James’ salary for as long as he is sidelined. More than $10 million would have been guaranteed if the injury had occurred at the Broncos’ facility.
The NFL has noted this contractual leverage multiple times during negotiations with the NFLPA, which has advised players to skip the voluntary portion of in-person offseason training unless they stand to lose workout bonuses.
“According to the media coverage,” the NFL wrote in its memo, “several players have expressed surprise that Mr. James’ injury was not covered by his Injury Guarantee, although this point has been made frequently in our discussions with the NFLPA about the offseason program. Clubs are encouraged to remind players of the significant injury-related protection provided if they choose to work out at the club facility and the risks they undertake in choosing to train in non-NFL locations.”
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