Founder of the Carolina Panthers Jerry Richardson dies – WSOC TV

CHARLOTTE — Jerry Richardson, the Carolina Panthers founder and for years one of many NFL’s most influential house owners till a scandal pressured him to promote the staff, has died. He was 86.

Richardson died peacefully Wednesday evening at his Charlotte residence, the staff stated in an announcement.

Richardson grew to become the primary former NFL participant to personal a staff since Chicago’s George Halas when he landed the enlargement Panthers in 1993.

A former teammate of Johnny Unitas who caught a landing go within the Baltimore Colts’ victory over the New York Giants within the 1959 NFL championship sport, Richardson solely spent two years within the NFL earlier than venturing into the restaurant enterprise. He used his championship bonus cash to open the primary Hardee’s in Spartanburg, South Carolina — near the place he had attended Wofford College.

He went on to make his fortune within the restaurant enterprise, changing into chief govt officer of Flagstar, the sixth-largest meals service firm within the nation on the time.

The Spring Hope, North Carolina, native spent years making an attempt to steer the NFL to place a staff within the Carolinas, in the end succeeding by a comparatively unique idea of funding a brand new stadium by the gross sales of everlasting seat licenses.

“Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic,” present Panthers proprietor David Tepper and his spouse Nicole stated in an announcement. “With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans here a team to call their own.”

Richardson stated in 2018 his best mission in life was bringing the NFL to the Carolinas.

The Panthers started play in 1995 and Richardson rapidly constructed Carolina into one of many league’s mannequin franchises, whereas changing into a robust determine within the NFL. Richardson served on a number of high-level house owners committees, enjoying a key function in labor negotiations with the gamers’ union.

But Richardson’s popularity took an incredible hit when he introduced he was promoting the Panthers on Dec. 17, 2017, — the identical day Sports Illustrated reported that 4 former Panthers workers acquired important financial settlements as a consequence of inappropriate sexually suggestive language and actions by Richardson. It was additionally reported he used a racial slur directed towards a staff scout.

He bought the staff to Tepper, a hedge fund proprietor, in May 2018 for a then-NFL file $2.27 billion. The following month the NFL fined Richardson $2.75 million for alleged office misconduct.

Richardson by no means addressed the allegations towards him publicly.

After buying the Panthers, Tepper stated he was “contractually obligated” to maintain the statue of Richardson, flanked by two panthers, exterior of the downtown Charlotte stadium that Richardson constructed.

But in June 2020, the Panthers eliminated the statue, saying they have been involved there could also be makes an attempt to take the statue down as a consequence of protests and unrest following the loss of life of George Floyd.

The staff stated that “moving the statue is in the interest of public safety.” It has by no means returned.

Although Richardson as soon as promised the Panthers would win a Super Bowl “within 10 years” of starting play in 1995, they by no means did. The staff reached the Super Bowl within the 2003 and 2015 seasons, however misplaced each instances.

The lack of consistency was a supply of irritation for Richardson, as Carolina didn’t put collectively back-to-back successful seasons throughout his 23 seasons as proprietor regardless of hiring 4 coaches: Dom Capers, George Seifert, John Fox and Ron Rivera.

“I will always be grateful to him for the opportunity to coach the Carolina Panthers & for his patient, steadfast leadership during 7 seasons,” Rivera stated on social media.

Richardson was well liked by his gamers.

VIDEO BELOW: Richardson’s life and his love for the sport

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Former tight finish Greg Olsen posted a four-minute video on Twitter, saying when Richardson discovered his unborn son had a critical coronary heart defect he insisted on flying his household to Boston Medical Center in his personal private jet so they might obtain the very best medical recommendation.

Olsen and his spouse Kara later named the kid Trent “Jerry” Olsen after Richardson.

“We got love from a man that was my employer, my boss, not a close personal friend at the time,” Olsen stated. “And he went above and beyond to bring comfort to a family at its toughest time.”

Quarterback Jake Delhomme, who led the Panthers to their first Super Bowl within the 2003 season, recollects getting a cellphone name from Richardson a few days after enduring he endured a disastrous four-turnover efficiency in a 33-13 residence loss to the Arizona Cardinals within the 2008 playoffs.

“He calls and says, ‘Jake, the sun came out today at my house, did it come out at yours?,’” Delhomme instructed The Associated Press on Thursday. “I said, ‘Yes sir, it did.’ He said, ‘that’s a good thing — everything will be OK.’ And then he hung up the phone.”

When linebacker Thomas Davis retired in 2021, he thanked Richardson for believing in him and protecting him on the roster regardless of having suffered three torn ACLs in the identical knee.

Conservative by nature, Richardson as soon as cautioned Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton towards getting tattoos and piercings after drafting the quarterback No. 1 general in 2011 for concern it might impression his picture.

He additionally had a coverage the place followers weren’t allowed to take away their shirts throughout video games.

And throughout Richardson’s tenure as proprietor he all the time made certain the NFL emblem — as an alternative of his staff’s — was at midfield of Bank of America Stadium.

Richardson’s tenure was marred by off-field points.

He fired each his sons — Mark, the staff president, and Jon, the director of stadium operations — following a sibling squabble on the stadium in entrance of different workers whereas he was recovering from a coronary heart transplant in 2009. It was anticipated on the time one of many boys would possibly inherit the staff, however that by no means occurred. Jon Richardson died of most cancers in 2013.

In 2000, vast receiver Rae Carruth, a former first-round draft choose, was convicted on a homicide conspiracy cost in reference to the drive-by capturing loss of life of his pregnant girlfriend. Carruth was imprisoned for 16 years.

And in 2014 star defensive finish Greg Hardy was positioned on a commissioner’s exempt record after he was accused of allegedly throwing his girlfriend on to furnishings and threatening to kill her. Prosecutors dismissed home violence costs towards Hardy after they stated the accuser within the case couldn’t be discovered.

Richardson is survived by his spouse, Rosalind, son Mark and daughter Ashley Richardson Allen.



Jerry Richardson’s contributions to skilled soccer within the Carolinas are historic. with the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he modified the panorama of sports activities within the area and gave the NFL followers right here a staff to name their very own. He was extremely gracious to me once I bought the staff, and for that I’m grateful. Nicole and I prolong our deepest condolences to Rosalind, the whole Richardson household, and their family members. We want them a lot peace and luxury.

Wofford College President Nayef Samhat

Mr. Richardson’s impression on Wofford College is immeasurable. I do know of no yet another beneficiant together with his time, knowledge and assets. While his presents to the faculty and different organizations all through the Carolinas are legendary, I’ll endlessly keep in mind him for his quiet generosity and the presents that didn’t seize headlines. So many have him to thank for kindness massive and small. Our neighborhood sends condolences to Mrs. Richardson and his household. We will miss him significantly.

Frank Reich Statement

I’ll all the time be grateful to Mr. Richardson for offering me with the chance to play for the Panthers. Being part of the inaugural season is one thing that I’ll always remember. It was actually a particular expertise to play an element within the end result of his efforts to convey soccer to the Carolinas.” Frank Reich, first Panthers quarterback and present head coach.

National Football League

The NFL neighborhood is deeply saddened by the passing of Jerry Richardson.

The Carolina Panthers are a testomony to his extraordinary and tireless dedication to the neighborhood. But his league-first perspective as seen by his management of quite a few NFL committees, together with the Stadium Committee and Management Council Executive Committee, helped pave the way in which for a sequence of public-private stadium partnerships all through the nation, and collective bargaining agreements that proceed to help the expansion of the sport.

As a former participant himself, Jerry cared deeply concerning the welfare of gamers and the labor agreements he helped negotiate have led to improved pay and advantages for generations of gamers.

From a private perspective, he was a clever and caring advisor to me, his fellow house owners, and plenty of Panthers gamers and coaches through the years.

On the NFL’s behalf, I prolong our honest condolences to Jerry’s spouse, Rosalind, and their household.

UNC Charlotte

Charlotte sends the Richardson household our deepest condolences as we mourn his passing.

We are grateful to Jerry Richardson for his longtime help of the University, particularly his beneficiant funding that helped make soccer a actuality for our athletics program.

(WATCH: Jerry Richardson donates $100K to Charleston capturing victims’ households)

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