Mike McCormack, the first president of the Carolina Panthers and the first inductee into the team's Hall of Honor, died Friday. He was 83.
McCormack, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984, played for the New York Yanks and became a star offensive tackle with the Cleveland Browns. He was a head coach in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Seattle.
The Panthers hired him as a consultant in 1993 and he became general manager before becoming president. He had contacts and credibility and helped Panther owner Jerry Richardson navigate the NFL as he pursued a franchise.
The first game the Panthers played was on the road against Atlanta on Sept. 3, 1995. The Falcons led by seven late in the fourth quarter so most of the reporters at the game, among them me, headed downstairs to the Panther locker room.
As we did, Carolina quarterback Frank Reich hit Willie Green with a 44-yard touchdown pass. As we sheepishly returned to our seats for overtime, McCormack laughed.
Ye of miniature faith.
Atlanta won by three in overtime.
McCormack reminded me of Jerry Richardson. He wasn't loud, he moved with dignity and when he entered a room everybody knew.