In a shocking development, longtime Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Sunday he plans to sell the team at the conclusion of the season.
The announcement comes just hours after Sports Illustrated reported Richardson has paid off at least four women to keep quiet following allegations of workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment and using a racial slur.
“I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership,” Richardson said in a statement. Therefore, I will put the team up for sale at the conclusion of this NFL season.”
Richardson, 81, said he won’t begin the sale process or entertain any offers until after the season.
Richardson would frequently make several inappropriate comments directed at female employees regarding their appearance on “Jeans Day” every Friday, according to Sports Illustrated. Richardson would “ask women to turn around so he could admire their backsides” before cycling through one of his one-liners:
“Show me how you wiggle to get those jeans up.”
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is selling the team.
“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?”
While the majority of Richardson’s disturbing behavior centered around sexual harassment directed at female employees, the 81-year-old owner also paid off one African American employee after using a racial slur, according to Sports Illustrated.
Richardson did not address the reports of sexual harassment and using a racial slur in his statement.
The Panthers previously announced the team would launch an investigation into Richardson’s alleged workplace misconduct Friday, before ESPN later announced Sunday it would be taking over the investigation.
Jerry Richardson founded the Panthers in 1993, becoming the NFL’s 29th franchise. The team is now valued at $ 1 billion, according to Forbes.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton came to Richardson’s defense, prior to the announcement, describing the longtime Panthers owner as a father figure to both himself and other players.
“He’s had a father-like role to a lot of players in that locker room, present and past,” Newton said. “For me, I hope things don’t alter my thinking about Mr. Richardson. But what I do know, he’s given me some things I will forever be appreciative of.”
Richardson founded the Panthers in 1993, becoming the NFL’s 29th franchise. The team is now valued at $ 1 billion, according to Forbes.
Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles later released a statement regarding the impending sale.
“The City of Charlotte values its long-running relationship with the Panthers after more than 22 seasons of NFL football,” Lyles said in a statement. “The Panthers are part of Charlotte’s fabric. We’ve celebrated victories and anguished over defeats. We understand transitions are inevitable, and we look forward to working with current and future ownership. Keep pounding.”