Fitterer reveals moment he knew Young was the one

Mike Florio and Chris Simms react to Scott Fitterer’s explanation about how Bryce Young’s pre-Pro Day dinner sealed the deal for the Panthers’ draft decision.

Video Transcript

MIKE FLORIO: I do a post-draft interview series with GMs, mainly GMs, every once in a while a head coach. But a lot of GMs talk about their draft picks, their process, different issues. And I try to pick teams that have done something intriguing. And of course, the Panthers did something very intriguing by having the first overall pick in the draft after they traded up with the Bears to get it.

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So, here's Scott Fitterer from yesterday. I was talking to him about, Chris, the moment that he knew that Bryce Young was the guy once they were at number one and they could have had any of the quarterbacks they wanted. Here's what he had to say.

SCOTT FITTERER: We really didn't decide until the Monday prior to the draft when I walked into Frank's office, said, OK, who are we taking? Just kind of a quick question. He said, Bryce. I talked to Mr. Tepper about it. And I think we were all on board. It was the consensus throughout the organization. Bryce was the right guy for us.

MIKE FLORIO: Was there a moment where you sensed that's where it was going? Was it a meeting, was it a discussion, was it his Pro Day work? I mean, when was it that you thought, you know what, I have a feeling this is where we're going to end up?

SCOTT FITTERER: The one thing that stands out is probably at dinner the night before his Pro Day. And we're sitting in a restaurant, and we're talking to him. And this is the first time-- you've interviewed him at the Combine in a 18-minute interview. We've talked to him at other places. But this is the time you see him in a social setting where we're sitting around a table and we're really just getting to know the guy and he's holding court.


MIKE FLORIO: Help the folks who don't do this for a living understand the line from how someone handles themselves at a social dinner and how someone handles themselves on a football field. I'm sure it's not a bright, clear line. It's more of a jagged, dotted line, but what do you glean from those interactions that make you think, this is going to be the right guy for us on the football field?

SCOTT FITTERER: You feel the presence of the player, just like the command that they have. As he's sitting there at dinner, he was so poised. And you're like, OK, if I put this guy in the huddle, if Brent and I are saying, this is the guy, we're putting him in the huddle, game's on the line, Bryce is the guy we want our players looking at knowing this is the guy that can get it done for us. We can win with this guy.

MIKE FLORIO: I understand what he's saying, but it's two different contexts. This is different as it can possibly be. You've lived it, you've been there, you've been around your dad your whole life who was a great quarterback. Is there a correlation between how someone conducts themselves at a dinner and how they conduct themselves on a football field in a huddle, wherever, in relation to their job?

CHRIS SIMMS: Yes, there is, right? Being able to communicate, being able to change the ways how you do communicate according to certain people at the table, right, because that's what you're going to get in an NFL huddle or locker room. You might have the receiver there who's boisterous and always got to complain or something, you've got to be a little bit coddling with him, and make him feel good. And then you might have a lineman you need to mother F every now and then. And you got to be able to show those personality differences there.


But I mean, I don't know I think it's always apples for apples, right? I mean, hey, there's definitely been some quarterbacks where I'd go, well, him at a dinner setting? That'd be a rough-- you know, he's a little rough around the edges. He might say some things that are totally out of left field and maybe offend some people, but in the locker room or in a huddle, it ain't going to matter. That doesn't matter.

I was actually thinking of like a Brett Favre, right? Brett Favre at a dinner coming out of high school, he's probably throwing four-letter words out, drinking a beer, exactly, right? So, you're going, well--

MIKE FLORIO: Picking his nose.

CHRIS SIMMS: Right, right, but what the hell has that got to do when he's on the field, and in the locker room, and with the huddle? A lot of those guys would like that flip-flop, beer, pick your nose, whatever, or whatever it is there. So, there's a fine line to what you're saying there, as far as letting that totally take over the conversation.


MIKE FLORIO: Lighten up, Sandy Baby, that was John Riggins' line to Sandra Day O'Connor at a social function once upon a time. And I just had this vision as you were explaining that. Like, does Bryce Young show up and say, all right, here's what I'm going to do. You're going to order the steak, and you're going to ask for it medium well.

You're going to have the fish because you look like your shirt's a little bit tight tonight and you need to lose some weight. You're going to have a piece of pie. You're going to have a piece of cheesecake. I mean, and I'm having fun, and I understand that you do glean certain things from how someone carries themselves, and that's after you've got the hay in the barn on the basic football skill.

CHRIS SIMMS: That's right.

MIKE FLORIO: They're not just interviewing people who seem like they're very suave, and easygoing, and in command of a dinner function, and saying, hey, go play quarterback. You've got to have the skills or it's not relevant. But I just thought that was a fascinating response. I had never thought of it that way.


CHRIS SIMMS: And Mike, he says they got the decision on Monday, but it really sounds like they've been leaning ever since dinner that it was really like, OK, maybe not 100%, but it sounds like dinner at the Pro Day the night before, it was like dinner got done and it was like 98% you were going with Bryce Young. That's kind of the way it sounds there, the way he put it.

MIKE FLORIO: OK. We've got more sound from Scott Fitterer. Here's what we're going to do. Let's keep the show on track. We hit the one that I really wanted to hit. The rest of it is available at PFT. The rest of it is available at the pages. There's a lot of stuff there. I'm going to be writing more about it as well.

How they're going to deal with his height, and his weight, and other issues. But for now, let's just, since we spent so much time talking about the Jonathan Gannon thing, take a break. When we return, more PFT Live, Wednesday edition. We'll be right back.