Jan 31, 2023 - Sports

6 things to know about Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, Linda Reich, Panthers head coach Frank Reich, team owners David and Nicole Tepper and team president Kristi Coleman at Reich's introductory press conference.

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, Linda Reich, Panthers head coach Frank Reich, team owners David and Nicole Tepper and team president Kristi Coleman. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

After David Tepper introduced Frank Reich as the Panthers’ new head coach Tuesday, Reich didn’t immediately hop on stage. Instead, he walked around the room to shake hands with every player who attended.

  • The players were Taylor Moton, Brady Christensen, Donte Jackson, Jeremy Chinn, Marquis Haynes, Chuba Hubbard and Ikem Ekwonu.

What’s happening: Reich is now the franchise’s sixth full-time head coach, and eighth when you count interim head coaches.

Why it matters: The Panthers are in search of stability and a return to their winning ways of the mid-2010s, when they advanced to the playoffs four out of five years and reached a Super Bowl.

  • Reich will be the fifth person to lead the Panthers since Tepper bought the franchise in 2018.

The big picture: Tepper has now made two full-time head coaching hires for each of side of the Tepper Sports operation, NFL and Major League Soccer. He’s still searching for a winning season with either team.

  • “Both are high-integrity people,” Tepper said of Reich and Charlotte FC head coach Christian Lattanzio. “They’re just great individuals, great family men. Not to go back into it, but we just went through harrowing, I mean horrible process with Anton Walkes, when he passed away. Just to see how Christian, among others, helped lift the team up, Frank is the same sort of man who will help do that.”

By the numbers: The Panthers are 29-53 under Tepper. Charlotte FC went 13-18-3 during their first season.

Here are five things to know about the latest coach in Charlotte.

1. He’s been here before.

Reich was the franchise’s first starting quarterback in 1995.

  • “As a career backup quarterback, I don’t have too many highlights, but, you know, to have the first touchdown pass in the team’s history is pretty special,” said Reich, whose first touchdown pass for the Panthers was caught by Pete Metzelaars.
  • Metzelaars and other former teammates were also in attendance Tuesday, including Carlton Bailey, John Kasay, Gerald Williams, Dwight Stone and Mark Rodenhauser. 

2. He’s a preacher, and you can tell.

Left to right: Pete Metzelaars, Dwight Stone, Frank Reich, Carlton Bailey and John Kasay, Mark Rodenhauser and Gerald Williams.Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

After he retired as a player, Reich studied at Reformed Theological Seminary’s Charlotte campus, where he later served as president from 2003-2006. He would also serve as pastor at Ballantyne Presbyterian, then Cornerstone Presbyterian.

  • When the 61-year-old took the stage, opened a folder and put on his glasses, it felt like he was taking the crowd to church.
  • For a team that hasn’t made the playoffs sine 2017, the Panthers will take all the extra help they can get to make Bank of America Stadium sing again.

3. Family is important to him.

Reich talked about teaching his daughters, Hannah Lia and Aviry, about football, and he’s kept that tradition alive, teaching his granddaughter how to carry a football.

  • “We’re a football family,” he said. “These girls, they all throw a pretty mean spiral. Taught them when they were young.”

4. His family can wear their Panthers gear again.

Reich family. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

While Reich was coaching with other teams, like when he was offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion Eagles in 2017, and then the Colts for the last five years, he told his son-in-laws, all of whom are from North Carolina, to put their Panthers gear in the back of the closet.

  • “Well now I told them, ‘You can bring that Panthers gear and put it in the front of the closet,'” Reich said.
  • Reich being named Panthers head coach was the best day of his son-in-law Thomas Brown’s life, besides their marriage and kids, Reich’s daughter Lia tweeted.

5. A family of football coaches

Reich’s brother Joe is the longtime head coach for Wingate. His father, Frank John Reich, coached was head coach at Lebanon High School and later an assistant coach at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania.

6. Keep pounding.

Sam Mills, Reich’s teammate during the 1995 season, used the phrase “keep pounding” leading up to a Wild Card game during the 2003 season. Mills, who had been diagnosed with intestinal cancer, cemented not just a phrase, but a mentality among the organization with those two words.

  • Mills exemplified “keep pounding” in his work ethic and how he prepared for every game.
  • “Keep pounding” is, “ultimately about a sign of being committed to the process, that even though there’s going to be some bumps along the road, if we keep pounding and we keep believing, we’re gonna get it right,” Reich said.
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