The Washington Football Team has officially hired Marty Hurney as its executive vice president of football/player personnel, reuniting him with head coach Ron Rivera, who worked with Hurney with the Carolina Panthers.
Hurney has decades of experience that will be vital to Washington as it tries to improve on Rivera's first season, which resulted in the team winning the NFC East with a 7-9 record. Here are five things to know about Washington's newest executive.
1. He has ties to the DMV.
Hurney's hiring will act as something of a homecoming for him; he grew up in Wheaton, Maryland, went to Our Lady of Good Counsel and attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Hurney told the Washington Post in 2004 that he did not know what he wanted to do in college. He had several majors, including medical technology and English; "I can't even remember them all," he told Michael Wilbon. But he did love football, so he started covering sports for the school newspaper. That took him on a path to working for the Montgomery Journal,the Washington Starandthe Washington Times after college.
Hurney covered Washington's Super Bowl runs in 1983 and 1988, which led to him developing a close relationship with then-general manager Bobby Beathard. After the 1988 season, Beathard convinced then-owner Jack Kent Cooke to hire Hurney to the public relations department.
There were common threads that Hurney took from being a sportswriter to working for an NFL team, but the biggest was his love for sports, which was always the most appealing part of being a writer for him.
"I never thought of pursuing it because I was very fortunate I was doing something I loved," Hurney told Wilbon. "The same things I liked about sports writing -- dealing with players and coaches and people -- are what I liked about working for a team. When you're covering a beat you've got to deal with everybody. That part of it is like what we do now."
2. He had a successful stint with the Chargers franchise.
Two years after Washington hired Hurney, Beathard was on his way to San Diego to be the Chargers' general manager. He hired Hurney as his coordinator of football operations not long afterwards, and the two spent the next eight seasons rebuilding the Chargers franchise, which finished the 1989 season with a 6-10 record.
Hurney's initial responsibilities included working with the salary cap and contract negotiations, but he quickly graduated to handling more traditional GM work. The Chargers went 10-22 in Hurney's and Beathard's first two seasons with the team, but in 1992 the team jumped from 4-12 to 11-5 thanks to a mix of players it had drafted -- eventual Hall of Famer Junior Seau -- and free agents it had brought in -- former Washington quarterback Stan Humphries, who threw for 3,356 yards.
The Chargers were back in the postseason in 1994, and this time they cruised to a 6-0 start before finishing 11-5 and beating the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers to earn an appearance in Super Bowl XXIX, which they ultimately lost to the San Francisco 49ers.
Hurney worked with Beathard and the Chargers for another three seasons, which included another postseason run in 1995. But in 1998, Hurney left the Chargers to join the Panthers as the director of football operations, where even more success followed.
3. He was pivotal to the Panthers' Super Bowl run in 2004.
It did not take long for Hurney to rise through the ranks of the Panthers franchise. He was named the director of player operations one year after he was hired, and two years after that he became the team's general manager due in part to a recommendation from Beathard.
Hurney was now in charge of a team that was in need of an upgrade. It finished the 2001 season 1-15 and had the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft. For the next three seasons, Hurney transformed the organization by hiring John Fox as the head coach, drafting Julius Peppers in 2002 and signing quarterback Jake Delhomme in 2003.
Hurney's work almost immediately paid off; the Panthers went 7-9 in 2002, but the next year the team was 11-5 and won the NFC South for the first time since 1996. Fueled by a top 10 defense, the Panthers took down the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII on Feb. 1, 2004
The Patriots won with a last-second field goal, but the Super Bowl run was the start of a largely successful stretch for the Panthers. They made the postseason two more times, including another conference championship appearance during the 2005 season.
4. He has delivered some strong draft picks.
Part of a general manager's resume is their draft history, and Hurney has put together a solid list of quality picks.
Peppers, Hurney's first pick with the Panthers, is undoubtedly one of the most successful. He played 17 seasons, 10 of which were with Carolina, and recorded 159.5 sacks during that span. He was voted to nine Pro Bowls, was named first-team All-Pro three times and collected several honors, including the 2002 Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Hall of Fame's All-2000's and All-2010's teams.
Other standouts included linebacker Thomas Davis Sr., who recorded 1,000-plus tackles in 13 seasons with Carolina; center Ryan Kalil, who was voted to five Pro Bowls; and running back DeAngelo Williams, who rushed for 8,096 yards and 61 touchdowns in his career.
In the final two seasons of his first stint with the team, Carolina drafted quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly with its first-round picks in 2011 and 2012. Newton went on to spend nine seasons with the Panthers, helped them advance to Super Bowl 50 and won MVP honors in 2015. Kuechly spent his entire career in Carolina and made the Pro Bowl in seven out of his eight seasons in the NFL.
Hurney's first-round picks during his second stint in Carolina (2017-20) were impressive as well in two-time 1,000-yard receiver D.J. Moore (2018), reigning team sack leader Brian Burns (2019) and stout defensive tackle Derrick Brown (2020).
5. He has a history of working with Ron Rivera.
Six of Rivera's nine seasons in Carolina were with Hurney as his general manager, so Washington's head coach has a good idea of what to expect from him.
The Panthers won the NFC South in three consecutive seasons from 2013-15 as well as made the postseason four times with Rivera as their head coach, and he said Hurney put a lot of the pieces in place to make that happen.
"I really appreciated working with him," Rivera said of Hurney in December. "He's a very hard worker and a very bright man. He knows the game. If you look at what he helped us build in Carolina when he helped us build our run, it's pretty impressive."
Rivera and Hurney will quickly get to work on improving Washington's roster, which made the postseason for the first time since 2015 and played a competitive game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will play in the NFC Championship this weekend. Washington currently has eight draft picks, including four in the first three rounds, and some of the most cap space available, so there will be several opportunities for them to accomplish that goal.
"Marty Hurney is an excellent evaluator of talent and someone whom I trust and have worked with in the past," said Rivera in a press release announcing his hire. "He knows the amount of hard work it takes to operate a successful personnel department. Marty has a proven track record as a successful scout and general manager and will be a vital part of shaping our roster. Both myself and Mr. Snyder agreed that he would bring an enormous amount of experience to our operation. It is also fitting that Marty started his career here working for the legendary Bobby Beathard. I look forward to collaborating with both Marty and Martin in the years to come."