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Wed, 24 Oct 2012 02:30 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers announced that GM Marty Hurney has been relieved of his duties.

The move came a day after a 19-14 loss to Dallas gave Carolina a 1-5 start despite it having one of the league’s higher payrolls. The Panthers’ record is the worst in the NFC.

“This was an extremely difficult decision,” team owner Jerry Richardson said in a statement released by the team. “Marty made every effort to bring success to the Panthers and took the team to a Super Bowl and 2 NFC Championship Games. Unfortunately, we haven’t enjoyed the success we were hoping for lately. I have the best respect and admiration for Marty and will always appreciate the way he unceasingly served the organization.”

Hurney joined the team’s staff dep. in 1998 and was elevated to GM in 2002.

The Panthers went to the Super Bowl in the 2003 season and the NFC Championship Game in the 2005 season. But Carolina has not yet had a winning season since 2008 and never had back-to-back winning seasons in Hurney’s tenure.

“I am very fortunate to once have been part of one of the best organizations in the NFL since 1998,” Hurney claimed. “As GM I’ll always regret not helping us win the Super Bowl or having back-to-back winning seasons. I am hoping this change starts accomplishing the direction to those goals.

“I understand this decision by Mr. Richardson and will always have an extremely close relationship with him. I consider him the best owner in the NFL. I’m responsible for everyone in coaching, the players, the scouts and everybody in football operations. After 6 weeks, we are 1-5 coming off a 6-10 season.” Las Vegas odds

While Hurney asserted he understood Richardson’s decision, one of the team’s defensive stars was surprised by the move. Defensive end Charles Johnson voiced his objections to Hurney’s firing.

Receiver Steve Smith, who has been with the Carolina Panthers since 2001, announced that the NFL was a “tough business” when asked about Hurney’s firing.

“I always will, I always have respected Marty as a man and also as a General Manager. He’s made some difficult decisions,” Smith said. “Marty and Mr. Richardson, I think neither party thought this day would come in the middle of the season like this.”

Hurney’s philosophy has been to build thru the draft and re-sign proven players rather than going after high-priced free agents. But the team wasted a considerable number of high draft picks through the years on players who became busts.

Hurney also was criticized for giving big free-agent contracts to keep the team’s core intact following a 2-14 season in 2010. He gave defensive end Johnson, who hasn’t ever been to a Pro Bowl, a contract worth $72 million and also handed out a 5-year, $43 million contract with $21 million in assured cash to RB DeAngelo Williams. Williams hasn’t done much since and serves a part-time player.

This past offseason the Panthers gave fellow RB Jonathan Stewart a deal worth more than $5 million a year. That left the team with 2 high-priced running backs at a point when the NFL has moved towards changing into a passing league.

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