Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the situation surrounding Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson and his decision to sell the team saddened him. The two owners were often seen as among the most powerful and influential men in the modern NFL. Jones was still a relative neophyte owner back in 1993 when Richardson was awarded his expansion franchise, which made Charlotte a major league sports town once again.
“I’m very sad,” Jones said after the Cowboys’ beat the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night. “Jerry is one of the really, really, really outstanding men of football that I’ve ever met, and I really admire him. I know that he made it the old-fashioned way. He worked for it. He took what he made in a short time in pro football and turned it into a great business and then used that to get the Carolina franchise. So he’s a great story.”
A great story? Yes, on the surface.
But when you dig deeper, which Jones and the rest of the NFL owners should have done before awarding Richardson his coveted franchise, you’ll see that the man who some people are feeling sad for deserves no sympathy whatsoever. The man should have never been given an NFL franchise in the first place.
Richardson, amid allegations of workplace misconduct, announced Sunday night in a letter on the team website that he plans to put the NFL team he founded up for sale after the 2017 season.
The 81-year-old Richardson allegedly made verbal comments about women’s appearances, inappropriately touched female employees and made advances to women that included asking whether he could shave their legs and for them to give him foot rubs.
The allegations also included the use of a racial slur that led to a settlement with a scout and comments made by Richardson about black players’ appearances.
Here is Jerry Richardson’s statement via the team website
Prior to that news coming out, I had no opinion of Richardson one way or the other. But that changed in the whirlwind of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to protest societal inequities during the playing of the national anthem.
Richardson made it clear that he had no respect for Black players in the NFL and on his team when he threatened to penalize any Panther that took a knee.
So before this bombshell broke, Richardson occupied the same space in my thoughts as Elvis did in Chuck D’s. And now that the details are beginning to emerge, it’s becoming even more clear that the rest of the NFL ownership knew that Richardson was a racist, but they invited him into their exclusive club nevertheless, which tells you more about the NFL owners as a collective than it does about Richardson the individual.
Richardson was long-lauded as a former receiver for the Baltimore Colts who made his fortune outside of football. The legend tells the story of a former college walk-on who made it to the National Football League and once caught passes from the venerable Johnny Unitas.
It goes on to paint the portrait of a noble man who refused to sign a low-ball contract, who used his bonus money to purchase a Hardee’s restaurant and went on to parlay that into a fast food fortune.
ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark reacts to the news that Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is selling the team in the wake of accusations against him that include sexual harassment and a racial slur toward a scout who has since left the team.
That one Hardee’s became many and morphed into Spartan Food Systems. He eventually became the CEO of Flagstar, Inc and a revered billionaire who brought an NFL franchise to Charlotte, becoming only the second NFL owner, alongside George Halas, who had ever played in the league.
Sounds like a great, up-from-your-bootstraps story. Except for some details which have long been excluded from the narrative.
According to Sports Illustrated, “As Richardson was applying for ownership, his company faced legal trouble. Flagstar was the subject of multiple racial bias lawsuits brought by the Justice Department. On the same day in April of 1993 that the Dennys chain, owned by Flagstar, settled one suit for discriminating against African-Americanssegregating black patrons and requiring them to pre-pay for meals and make various other payments not required of white patronssix black Secret Service agents assigned to President Bill Clinton’s detail were refused a table at a Denny’s in Annapolis, Md., while their white colleagues were seated and served. Fortune called the company a shameful example of entrenched prejudice. In 1994 Flagstar agreed to pay more than $54 million to settle lawsuits filed by thousands of black customers. At the time it was the largest public accommodations settlement on record in the U.S.”
Kaepernick wants in.
“Another bias suit brought against Flagstar in 1994, referencing Richardson personally as an actor, did not get picked up by the media,” the SI article goes on to say. “Brenda Reed, an African-American woman, was a general manager at a Hardees in Sumiton, Ala., until she was terminated in November 1993. She alleged that she was criticized by a superior who commented that Reeds franchise was filled with monkeys, referring to the number of African-Americans Reed hired. According to public filings, Reed attended a Flagstar corporate event at which Richardson sought to assure managers that the Dennys racism had been addressed. From the audience, Reed spoke out and told Richardson that Flagstar needed to address Hardees because there is some [racism] in this company.
“Shortly thereafter, Reed was fired. She filed a federal lawsuit against Flagstar, claiming unlawful employment discrimination and retaliation based on race and specifically citing her public exchange with Richardson at the corporate event. Among the allegations were that she was fired for that confrontation of Richardson. Leslie Proll, then a Birmingham civil rights lawyer, represented Reed. Shortly before trial, the case settled for an undisclosed amount. Proll recalls that the settlement figure was not insubstantial.
Jerry Jones wishes there were more people like Jerry Richardson in the NFL: https://t.co/9k5RaeGFio
People can say all they want about Ron Rivera being a Latino head coach, about Cam Newton being the face of the franchise, but none of that speaks louder than Richardson overseeing an enterprise prior to becoming an NFL owner that boldly embraced racism, until it was forced to reconsider how it did business
“He’ll be the first to tell you he’s had a blessed life,” Jones said. “I’m really sad. I want all of those kind of men we can have in the National Football League.”
Really, Jerry Jones? Really?
The rest of us are really sad that you feel that way, because we want none of it, and no one like him being one of the most powerful men in pro sports ever again. It’s time for Richardson and his like-minded cohorts to hit the road jack, and don’t come back.
Forbes values the Panthers at $2.3 billion. It would set a new sports franchise sale record if the team sold at that price, but its likely to sell for even higher, perhaps as high as $3 billion.
So save your tears for someone else. A racist and relic from the past whose misconduct was widespread, who made others miserable, will walk away with $3 billion. Must be nice.
But we’re not sad in the least. Today’s a day of celebration. Jerry Richardson should have never been given a team in the first place. Here’s hoping that more Donald Sterling’s and Jerry Richardson’s get exposed for who they really are.
People are gullible when it comes to believing in legends. But there’s no disputing the truth.
Jerry Richardson getting up outta here like…. https://t.co/uNaQQM2xog
And the truth is, as much as Jones and others want to sugarcoat it, Jerry Richardson was a foul dude, had always been.
I knew he wasn’t morally right with his stance on player protests. And at least we’ve been given the satisfaction of now knowing, with no uncertainty, that he was a creep and a racist, who ran like a coward when the truth was exposed.