‘Let the coach and GM pick’: Panthers owner pays Charlotte restaurant surprise visit before draft

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Thursday was a big night in the NFL, and the Carolina Panthers made a surprise move, trading up into the first round to pick South Carolina’s Xavier Legette.

A few hours before the Panthers selected their newest player, an encounter between team owner David Tepper and a Charlotte restaurant owner had social media buzzing.

The owner of Dilworth Neighborhood Grille often changes the sign in front of their building to send different messages. This week, it has a simple plea, seemingly directed toward Tepper: “Please let the coach and GM pick this year.”

Matt Wohlfarth, the owner, shared surveillance footage with WTBV showing David Tepper paying the restaurant a visit Thursday night.

The footage shows Tepper walk in and ask who was responsible for the sign. Wohlfarth, who was not there at the time, was the mastermind behind the sign.

In the video, Tepper talks to the manager and takes his hat off. Wohlfarth said it was because it was an Eagles hat.

Tepper can be seen laughing in the video and the manager said he was pleasant about the whole situation.

Wohlfarth said Tepper was on his way to watch the draft when he saw the sign, although it has been up all week.

He said he wishes he had been there to invite Tepper to stay a while and have a beer and a candid conversation.

“I do need him to be more of an owner and less of a coach or a GM,” Wohlfarth said.

WBTV’s Caroline Hicks asked him if he stands behind the sign.

“I do,” he said. “All…everything I’ve heard this year leads me to believe that he is taking that to heart, I just want to make sure.”

Since purchasing the Panthers in 2018, there has been lots of talk about Tepper’s involvement in the team’s day-to-day operations. Many fans believe he has overstepped the boundaries, perhaps interfering too much with roster decisions.

Entering 2024, Carolina has its third head coach in three years and a new general manager.

The Panthers will be back on the clock Friday night during the second and third rounds of the draft. Across those two rounds, they currently hold the 39th and 65th overall picks. They did have the 33rd pick, but sent that to the Buffalo Bills to pick Legette.

Related: Panthers trade back into first round, draft South Carolina WR Xavier Legette

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