Last week, the sexual harassment accusations made their way into the world of professional football as Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans, Ike Taylor, and Warren Sapp all found themselves suspended from NFL Network after a former employee brought suit against the network for years of sexual misconduct.
Well, it didn’t take long for a scandal to reach into the upper echelon of the football world, as the owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson, finds himself in hot water for his treatment of female employees of the team. Richardson is also accused of making racist comments towards a black employee.
As part of SI’s investigation, four former employees were found to have received hush money settlements from Richardson for his continued harassment.
“Friday was Jeans Day, when most staffers at the Carolina Panthers team offices would wear denim to work,” reads the article. “The female employees knew what that meant. As the team’s owner, Jerry Richardson, made his rounds on the way to his spacious office, he would ask women to turn around so he could admire their backsides.”
Richardson is also accused of making comments towards these women, such as “Show me how you wiggle to get those jeans up. I bet you had to lay down on your bed to fit into those jeans. Did you step into those jeans or did you have to jump into them?”
Overall, the report is seemingly damning for the 81-year-old Panthers owner. As a result, Richardson has decided that, rather than be investigated and potentially run out by the league, Richardson will put the Panthers up for sale at the end of the season.
Richardson, the founding owner of the Panthers who was responsible for bringing an NFL expansion franchise to Charlotte back in 1993, announced his decision to sell in a press release on the Panthers’ website, although it took a little reading as Richardson addressed just about everything except the allegations he is currently facing.
“There has been no greater mission or purpose in my life than to have brought an NFL franchise to Charlotte,” read Richardson’s statement on the team’s website. “The obstacles back then were significant, and some even questioned whether our community could or would support professional football. But I always knew that if given the chance, the Carolinas would rise to the occasion. And you have. The team has become an integral part of our community. The stadium is in its best condition since the day it opened. And we have played in two Super Bowls.
Richardson has never shown any willingness to part with the team in the past, previously noting that the team will be sold when he dies and not a second sooner. However, Richardson would also prefer to go out on his own terms than being forced out and get the same bad name that former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling did.
“Football is also an integral part of my life—and I am blessed, every day, that I made the Carolinas my home. I can never repay all of you for the kindness and generosity you have shown me, Rosalind, and my family for more than two decades. We have the best fans in football—and I truly mean that. In my opinion, we also have the best organization, and they have served us well.”
So, with all the above in mind, and nothing to do with the allegations he’s facing, Richardson will be putting the team up for sale at the end of the season.
“I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership. Therefore, I will put the team up for sale at the conclusion of this NFL season. We will not begin the sale process, nor will we entertain any inquiries, until the very last game is played. I hope everyone in this organization, both on and off the field, will be firmly focused on just one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl. While I will no longer be the team owner, I will always be the Panthers Number One fan.”
The only thing even close to a reference to the situation at hand would have to be Richardson’s closing and signature, which offers a slight hint of denial (or maybe that’s just the irony I’m smelling).
“With respect. Always.”
Richardson has been a part of the NFL since his playing days in 1959 with the Baltimore Colts. Now, the only current owner who has played in the NFL seems to be on his way out. At least things won’t be as ugly as Sterling’s departure.
And, for a little irony in the end, maybe Richardson will be wearing jeans the day he finally leaves the office for good.