Jerry Richardson

NFL Fines Former Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson

The NFL has fined former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson after a lengthy investigation into his comments and workplace behavior, the league announced. Richardson has been fined $2.75MM that will go towards supporting “organizations addressing race and gender-based issues and fund league-wide workplace training.” 

After Richardson’s behavior came to light last year, he quickly put the team up for sale. The Panthers went on the block in December 2017 and Steelers minority owner David Tepper was approved as the team’s new owner in May 2018. The franchise was sold for $2.2 billion, setting a new NFL record.

I appreciate [investigator] Mary Jo White’s careful and thorough examination of these issues, and her thoughtful recommendations to the Panthers and the entire NFL,” said commissioner Roger Goodell. “Her recommendations will help ensure that our workplaces are open, inclusive and respectful.”

According to the league, the investigation covered the publicly reported allegations as well as those that have not been written about in the press. The investigation found that the bad conduct was limited to Richardson and confirmed that the Panthers did not report the claims, or settlements stemming from the claims, to the league office before the bombshell report in December.

To combat similar problems in the future, White recommends measures including the “specific prohibition of using Non-Disclosure Agreements to limit reporting of potential violations or cooperation in League investigations under the Personal Conduct Policy.” White also recommended that the Panthers be required to report on the club’s ongoing work to address claims of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and related workplace issues. Goodell, according to the press release, has adopted that recommendation.

The sale of the team to Tepper is expected to be finalized within the next two weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Bucs

David Tepper‘s $2.275 billion Panthers purchase price was not the high bid during this process. Albert Breer of SI.com reports Ben Navarro‘s bid came in closer to Jerry Richardson‘s desired $2.6 billion price. But NFL owners had long preferred Tepper, a part-owner of the Steelers, to Navarro. Richardson wanted the team to go to a Carolinian, and Navarro is a Charleston, S.C., native. However, Tepper was able to make his bid mostly in cash, whereas Navarro had to bring in partners some in the league’s power structure found unsatisfactory. The NFL “didn’t trust his money,” Breer writes, paving the way for Tepper. A credit card company mogul, Navarro encountered scrutiny from other owners, to the point he had to hire a PR firm to navigate obstacles during this high-profile pursuit. Additionally, fellow bidder Michael Rubin assembled a group of potential buyers that turned off some owners, Breer reports.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South, which involves the highest-profile player in the NBA’s Pacific Division.

  • Rubin attempted to bring in Steph Curry, a Charlotte native, but the NBA nixed that, Breer reports. A Curry/Rubin venture would have violated an NBA bylaw that prevents players from forming business partnerships with owners from other teams. The Golden State Warriors’ two-time MVP would have been working with a part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in Rubin, and even though they would have been partners in another sport, that evidently wouldn’t have mattered.
  • Tepper will try to run the Panthers like the Steelers; he’s unlikely to change Carolina’s football operations at this point. In preparation for this entrance into the franchise-ownership game, Tepper consulted Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and VP of football and business administration Omar Khan about Panthers GM Marty Hurney and HC Ron Rivera. And Breer reports the Pittsburgh execs were staunch supporters of both Carolina decision-makers.
  • The Saints will convert UDFA tight end Nate Wozniak to tackle, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports. A University of Minnesota product who caught just 28 passes in four seasons, the 6-foot-10 Wozniak weighed only 268 pounds at his pro day. He’s coming in north of 280 now and is aiming to get to 300, per Katzenstein, who adds other teams pursued Wozniak in hopes of converting him to tackle.
  • A Buccaneers staffer since 2014, Brian McLaughlin will ascend to the role of a national scout. Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes McLaughlin will be part of National Football Scouting, of which 15 NFL teams are affiliated, and piece together early prospect rankings that help set up organizational scouting reports.

Panthers Announce Sale To David Tepper

It’s a done deal. On Wednesday morning, the Panthers officially announced the sale of the team to hedge fund manager David Tepper. Tepper will pay $2.2 billion in cash for the team plus $75MM down the line, pushing the total purchase price to $2.275 billion (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Bringing the Panthers and the NFL to the Carolinas in 1993 was enormously fulfilling for Rosalind and me and all of our partners,” club founder Jerry Richardson said in a press release. “We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support over the last 25 years. You have taken the Panthers into your hearts and made them part of this warm and supportive community. We want to thank all of our past and present players, coaches and staff for their hard work in making the Panthers a great success both on the field and in the community. The personal relationships we have enjoyed have been very meaningful to us. I look forward to turning the stewardship of the Panthers over to David Tepper. I have enjoyed getting to know him in this process and am confident that he will provide the organization with great leadership in both its football and community initiatives.”

Given that he has been a minority owner of the Steelers since 2009, it is expected that the NFL will quickly approve the transaction during the spring league meeting later this mont in Atlanta. The business end of the deal should be finalized by July, per the team’s announcement.

I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers,” Tepper said. “I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas. I want to thank Jerry Richardson and the other Panthers partners for all they have done to establish and develop the NFL in the Carolinas. It has been a remarkable 25-year journey and I promise to build upon the Panthers’ success on the field and in the community.”

Panthers Conduct Second Interview With Lake Dawson

Marty Hurney met with NFL investigator Lisa Friel on Friday as part of a league investigation into a since-withdrawn domestic violence claim made by Hurney’s ex-wife. This has affected the Panthers’ GM interview process, with Hurney — who served as interim GM last season — previously viewed as the favorite to be named full-time GM.

However, the Panthers may now be leaning toward hiring an external candidate, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter).

One of the outside candidates that went through the initial interview process, Lake Dawson, was summoned back to Charlotte for a second meeting, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Dawson was one of three outside candidates interviewed for this post, joining 49ers exec Martin Mayhew and Texans player personnel VP Jimmy Raye III.

Currently the Bills’ assistant college scouting director, Dawson also interviewed for the Panthers’ GM position when it was previously open in 2013. Dave Gettleman won that race, but Dawson is firmly in the mix this time. Ron Rivera has been part of this search process as well, but the eighth-year HC wasn’t in the meeting when Dawson returned to North Carolina.

Hurney is currently on paid leave as the NFL conducts its investigation, and Person reports nothing is imminent on making this hire. Although Jerry Richardson intends to sell the Panthers, Person reports does not want to make a rash decision regarding Hurney, whom he once fired to clear the way for Gettleman.

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Peterson, Keenum, Seahawks

Adrian Peterson had one of the least productive seasons of his career in 2017, but the veteran running back believes he still has plenty left in the tank.

“At the end of the day, I know I can play,” he told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). “If you watch football, as far as being an evaluator of talent, if a guy has something left in the tank… he was able to see (I) can still play the game. … I would want to play maybe four more years, four to five more years.’’

There were rumblings that the Cardinals would ultimately cut Peterson, but the 32-year-old doesn’t sound overly concerned about his status in 2018.

“I haven’t heard anything from the horse’s mouth but I heard the report as well,” he told Tomasson. “But it’s just a report for now If it’s (true) it was a great run for me and a great opportunity and it will be on to the next but hopefully that’s not the case.”

Peterson split last season between the Saints and Cardinals. After an underwhelming start in New Orleans, Peterson ultimately started six games for Arizona, compiling 448 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 129 carries.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • While Aaron Rodgers made it clear that he wants to play into his 40s, he also told the Associated Press that it may require him to play for another team. The Packers quarterback cited the departure of Brett Favre, who bounced between the Jets and Vikings after more than a decade in Green Bay. “I think you have to be humble enough to realize if it could happen to Brett, it can happen to you,” Rodgers said.
  • The Vikings will have some tough choices to make at the quarterback position this offseason, but Case Keenum is hoping he’ll get another chance at the starting gig. The 29-year-old told 1500ESPN’s Mackey and Judd that he’d like to finish what he started in Minnesota.“We love Minnesota, we love it here, we love the season we had, we definitely feel like there’s some unfinished business with how things ended,” Keenum said (via Matthew Coller of 1500espn.com). “At the same time, we understand tough decisions have to be made and so we’ll see what happens.”
  • Mary Jo White will be leading the NFL’s investigation into Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, reports ESPN.com’s David Newton. Back in December, it was reported that the owner was under investigation for workplace misconduct. White had previously served as a federal prosecutor in New York City and as the Securities and Exchange Commission under President Obama.
  • The Seahawks have hired former Texans special teams coach Larry Izzo as their new assistant ST coach, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Izzo was the special teams coach in Houston for the past two years, but was fired last month after back-to-back dismal seasons. He’ll now work under Brian Schneider, who’s been in Seattle since 2010. Izzo, a former NFL linebacker and special teams maven in the AFC East, is replacing Heath Farwell, who took a similar role with the Panthers.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Jerry Richardson Cedes Control Of Panthers

The Panthers announced that owner Jerry Richardson will step away day-to-day management of the team. Executive Tina Becker has been named COO and will take over immediately. Jerry Richardson (vertical)

[RELATED: NFL Suspends Panthers LB Thomas Davis]

These have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers, but I am lifted up by the strong resolve and the commitment our employees have shown to this organization,” Becker said in a statement released by the Panthers. “Our team on the field is performing at a very high level, and I believe is bound for the Super Bowl. My immediate focus will be to ensure the corporate side of the organization performs at the same high level, while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days.”

On Friday, we learned that the NFL is investigating Richardson for alleged workplace misconduct. It is alleged that Richardson made inappropriate sexual comments towards female Panthers employees and also aimed a racial slur at a black scout. There also may have been improper touching of female employees. Soon after the news broke, Richardson announced that he would be selling the franchise.

Richardson, 81, has been the only owner the Panthers have ever known in their 22-year history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson To Sell Team

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been in the news for the wrong reasons after recent allegations of work misconduct came to light over the past few days. However, in a sudden shift, the longtime owner has announced that he will be selling the franchise this offseason.

Jerry Richardson

In his statement, Richardson provided little detail about why he was stepping away from football, but you can expect that it stems from the current NFL investigation reviewing Richardson’s behavior in the workplace since entering the league in 1995.

It has been reported that the investigation deals with both sexual and racial slurs over the years. Reports have also revealed that the owner apparently paid out settlements in order to keep this incidents from going public. The NFL recently announced that they would be leading their own investigation into the matter, although it’s open question to how this news affects that process.

The 81-year-old has been the only owner the Panthers have ever known and has brought the team to two Super Bowl appearances since the franchise entered the NFL over 22 years ago. There’s still much left to be settled regarding the sale of the team, even though it should become more clear who the prospective buyers might be in the months to come.

Nevertheless, Richardson leaves his position having made a large imprint on both the league and in the Carolinas. It remains to be seen where the investigation may go, but we do know that the Panthers franchise will take a dramatic change in direction after this season comes to a close.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Allegations Against Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson

The Panthers announced earlier this week that they’ve opened an investigation into workplace misconduct by owner Jerry Richardson, an inquiry that has now been taken over by the league. In a detailed story posted Sunday, L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein of Sports Illustrated provide a comprehensive look at the allegations against Richardson.Jerry Richardson (Vertical)

Richardson’s misconduct seems to have entailed both inappropriate sexual comments and activity directed towards female Panthers employees, plus a racial slur aimed at an African American scout. The sexual conduct involved remarks about women’s appearances, personal grooming, clothing, as well as possible improper touching. “Looking back,” one former employee told the SI scribes, “he was gaining our trust before doing things he shouldn’t be doing.”

In addition to the alleged racial slur, “antebellum echoes” encompass the franchise, as employees refer to Richardson simply as “Mister.” “It was a power culture. You did what Mister said, when he said it,” says one former employee. “He thinks he’s really great. You’re supposed to reinforce that… Even when he does things that make you feel like half a person, that you know are wrong.”

Per Wertheim and Bernstein, Richardson has regularly reached financial settlements with accusers, but those negotiations are finalized with non-disclosure and non-disparagement language attached. As such, there is little in the way of paperwork regarding the claims against Richardson, but one former employee said she has in fact seen documentation detailing sexual harassment charges against the franchise owner.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Owner Under Investigation For Workplace Misconduct

SUNDAY, 10:06am: The NFL is taking over the Richardson investigation at the Panthers’ request, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). As Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer tweets, Carolina made the suggestion in an effort to remove any conflict of interest that may have existed with Bowles overseeing the investigation.

Under the prior investigation parameters, Richardson would participate in the team’s daily affairs as normal. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says now that the league has taken over the investigation, it is unclear whether that will remain the case (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 5:08pm: Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is under internal investigation for alleged workplace misconduct, according to Jim Trotter of ESPN.com. Carolina has since released a statement on the matter.Jerry Richardson

“The Carolina Panthers and Mr. Richardson take these allegations very seriously and are fully committed to a full investigation and taking appropriate steps to address and remediate any misconduct,” team spokesman Steven Drummond said. “The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally. We have work to do to achieve this goal, but we are going to meet it.”

The investigation, per the team’s statement, will be led by an outside law firm and Panthers limited partner/former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles. “Erskine Bowles is a trusted leader of unquestioned integrity. We look forward to this report, which we know will be honest and thorough,” Drummond said.

Richardson, 81, has been the Panthers’ owner since the franchise’s inception in 1995. He is the only former NFL player to own a club.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Los Angeles, 49ers, Maclin

The Carson presentation drew laughs from the owners once Disney Chairman Robert Iger mentioned how he’d paid the owners plenty of money over the years. That comment, and a Jerry Jones joke following Iger’s exit from the room, helped escalate the downward-trending Carson initiative’s demise, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.

He said he paid us. Last time I checked, that money is coming from Disney shareholders, not him,” Jones told his fellow owners during Tuesday’s relocation summit in Houston, per Farmer.

The owners voted 19-13 on whether their votes would be secret. After two votes, the Inglewood project received 21, three shy of the majority needed to relocate the Rams.

Roger Goodell then ushered Stan Kroenke, Dean Spanos and Mark Davis into a private room for an hour-long negotiation. Upon the trio’s return, Davis announced the Raiders were pulling out of the race, Farmer reports. The agreement that gives the Chargers a one-year window to decide on relocating to Inglewood had been discussed for more than six months.

Farmer also notes Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who had been vocal about his support for the Carson project and helped attach Iger to it, was silent most of the day.

Here is some more on Los Angeles and the latest on the Western-stationed franchises.

  • With economists estimating the Chargers can expect three to five times more revenue in Los Angeles than in San Diego, a source tells Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune “at least 10 teams” would be lining up to take the joint-tenant deal in Inglewood if the Chargers wouldn’t. Acee also reports there’s talk of a bit more than the $100MM the NFL offered to help keep the Raiders and Chargers in their respective cities available to the Chargers if they were to make things work in San Diego. Spanos could leverage San Diego with the deal the Chargers would be in line to receive alongside the Rams if in fact San Diego is serious about keeping the franchise, Acee writes. But San Diego now will entertain the notion of bringing another team to the city.
  • Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said Kroenke will be spending between $3 billion and $3.5 billion to relocate the Rams, factoring in the $550MM relocation fee and the Rams’ new stadium (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, on Twitter).
  • Several members of the 49ers‘ staff from last season has reportedly packed up and moved their things out of the team’s facility, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports (on Twitter). Chip Kelly met with defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, per Maiocco, but the future of the San Francisco coaching staff is highly uncertain at this point. Kelly will meet with running backs coach Tom Rathman next week, Maiocco tweets. The former 49ers fullback’s been on the 49ers’ staff since 2009 and had to instruct one of the most injury-ravaged units in the NFL this season.
  • Former Eagles quarterbacks coach Ryan Day is under consideration for the job of 49ers offensive coordinator, ESPN reports (via Maiocco). A former New Hampshire player under Kelly, Day joined Kelly with the Eagles last season after being Boston College’s OC in 2013-14.
  • Both Eagles defensive line coaches, Jerry Azzinaro and Mike Dawson, are the most likely coaches to follow Kelly from Philadelphia, Maiocco reports. Azzinaro’s been Kelly’s D-line coach for the past seven seasons, doing so at Oregon from 2009-12 and with the Eagles since 2013.
  • Maiocco also reports (via Twitter) the 49ers could be considering Buccaneers tight ends coach Jon Embree for a spot on their staff if Dirk Koetter doesn’t retain him. The Colorado head coach in 2011-12, the 50-year-old Embree’s coached tight ends for the Chiefs, Washington, Browns and Bucs since 2006. He’s been with Tampa Bay since 2014.
  • A mutual interest in acquiring players with length and size could help Kelly and GM Trent Baalke work well together with the 49ers, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch notes.
  • The Chiefs declared Jeremy Maclin active for today’s game against the Patriots, but their top wideout reportedly had trouble walking during the week of preparation, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Maclin did not practice this week due to the high-ankle sprain he suffered last Saturday against the Texans.