Panthers founder Jerry Richardson passes away at 86

Jerome J. Richardson was born July 18, 1936, in Spring Hope, N.C., step one in a journey that may remodel the Carolinas.

After rising up within the Fayetteville space, Richardson went to Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.; the place he excelled in soccer and laid the groundwork for a enterprise empire that may permit him to return to the sport he as soon as walked away from.

He nonetheless holds the varsity’s single-game file for receiving yards (241 in opposition to Newberry in 1956), in addition to data for landing receptions in a season (9) and profession (21). That form of manufacturing earned him Associated Press Little All-America honors in 1957 and 1958, and in 1959, he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts.

With the Colts, he roomed with quarterback Johnny Unitas, and caught a landing go from the Hall of Famer within the 1959 NFL Championship Game.

But after his second season, he walked away from the NFL in a dispute over cash, and returned to Spartanburg to start out his enterprise profession. Using his championship recreation bonus as seed cash, he opened his first Hardee’s restaurant in Spartanburg.

There, he started creating the emphasis on customer support that may carry over into his stewardship of his soccer group.

When he owned the group, Richardson would typically refer again to the teachings discovered promoting hamburgers. He’d drop in on eating places occasionally to examine up, sticking his head within the drive-through line to shock prospects and workers alike.

That form of consideration to element was not in contrast to his days as proprietor of the Panthers, during which he’d approve particulars of landscaping plans (native crops from every state on the north and south sides of the stadium to symbolize the 2 Carolinas) and the paint job on the sector. On recreation days, he’d experience round Bank of America Stadium in his golf cart, greeting followers and taking footage, relishing the moments.

But earlier than he may experience round these video games and bask within the adulation of getting introduced the NFL to the Carolinas, he needed to ship them.

Richardson started the method of constructing a soccer group in July of 1987, when he met with former Bank of America CEO and Charlotte icon Hugh McColl to debate his dream of bringing the game to his residence state.

Charlotte had already grow to be knowledgeable sports activities city with the arrival of the NBA’s Hornets in 1988, however these had been the times when the town struggled to construct an identification as something aside from a regional outpost, nonetheless confused with Charleston, S.C. or Charlottesville, Va., and years from changing into a nationwide banking middle.

Along the best way, selections had been made that modified the face of sports activities enterprise. He enlisted sports activities advertising and marketing government Max Muhleman, and so they put in place the primary everlasting seat license idea, during which followers paid an up-front charge for entry to season tickets. The Panthers had been the primary group to make use of the idea, and the inflow of money was essential to privately financing what was then often known as Carolinas Stadium.

But till Oct. 26, 1993 — the day Richardson was awarded the NFL’s twenty ninth franchise — it was all nonetheless a dream, to everybody however Richardson.

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