Five minutes into my 1985 interview for a job at The Washington Times, the Lou Grant-esque boss yelled for Marty Hurney to join us. I would be replacing him on the horse racing beat so he could move over to cover the Redskins.
We talked for two minutes and off Hurney went chasing a story. That pretty much summarizes the Washington Football Team's new executive vice president of football/player personnel – a hard worker who's always on the run.
Hurney was my mentor. I was a young punk reporter on my first daily paper, completely overwhelmed and underprepared. Hurney was our ace, breaking story after story at Redskin Park. He owned the beat for four seasons before the team offered him a job in public relations in 1988, before soon becoming general manager Bobby Beathard's assistant.
Hurney had one condition, according to one of our Times co-workers. He wasn't getting owner Jack Kent Cooke's lunch. Beathard simply replied, "I even get Cooke's lunch."
At least neither of them walked Coco, Cooke's little white poodle that was despised by all.
Hurney spent two years with Washington before following Beathard to San Diego in 1990 as assistant general manager. Hurney was known as a salary cap expert, which baffled me since his horse betting tips never added up to much.
After eight years, Hurney moved on to the Carolina Panthers, holding a series of titles before becoming general manager from 2002-12, then returning in 2017 until recently dismissed as part of a front office makeover under a new owner.
I knew Hurney would make his way back home. Native Washingtonians often return because this town always has action. People will quickly learn a few things about him.
Hurney is street-smart savvy and thick skinned. You have to be as a newspaper reporter. Whatever the Twitter world thinks of this hire is irrelevant to him. Hurney will be remindful of former Washington GM Charley Casserly – tight lipped but honest. Hurney won't reveal secrets, but also won't steer people wrong. Hurney once dated a Times sports copy editor and nobody knew until they announced their engagement. Man, that was a wow moment in the newsroom where everyone knew each other well.
Mostly, you won't hear much about Hurney because, like Casserly, he prefers the shadows to avoid distractions. Hurney is a grinder who doesn't worry about public adoration. Again, that's a newspaper reporter's life. And, Hurney doesn't tolerate nonsense. When an editor once berated him over a deadline, Hurney bet the editor couldn't do it. Hurney took the editor to a game and watched the latter melt down on a tight deadline. Hurney was my hero for that one.
That Hurney is a team player is probably why coach Ron Rivera wanted him. Hurney is the guy who has your back in that trench. He helped a young reporter like me get better without any benefit to himself. Hurney just liked helping people to strengthen the staff.
But if anyone thinks my old friend will leak news to me, well I once called him in Carolina with no reply. I picked up the house phone so the caller ID said Redskins Park and he answered right away. My old friend was ducking me. Hurney was afraid I wanted to know about a coaching hire so he ghosted me.
I wouldn't expect anything different now. The team will come first.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.