As John Fox left the practice field Friday, he insisted he's known about his impending departure for about two years.
A few hours later, the Carolina Panthers formally announced the end of his nine-year run in which he led the franchise to its only Super Bowl.
In a news release sent 10 minutes after the end of a college football bowl game at the team's stadium that owner Jerry Richardson attended, the Panthers finally announced the contracts of Fox and the rest of his staff wouldn't be renewed after Sunday's game at Atlanta.
"I told John today that I appreciate everything he has done for us over the last nine years, but as happens in this business, it is time for both sides to move in different directions," Richardson said in a statement.
Fox's departure has been no secret, and his last full practice at the Panthers' complex was an odd scene with the Meineke Bowl about to kick off just a few steps away. Fox gathered the players around him shortly before noon, with a burst of laughter heard from players as they broke toward the locker room.