In an article published by Yahoo sports and written by Michael Silver, Jerry "The Big Cat" Richardson has been given credit as the 3rd best team owner in the NFL. Also in the article, Silver reports on some sources surrounding the resignations of Jerry's two sons. More after the jump...
Here is the full text of the blurb, posted for those who don't want to read the whole thing:
3. Carolina Panthers – Jerry Richardson: Until a couple of days ago, this was going to be a feel-good tribute to a small-market owner who survived a serious health scare and resumed his place among the NFL’s elite owners. Then came Tuesday’s shocking announcement that Richardson’s two sons, Mark and Jon, had resigned from their high-level posts, and now comes the story behind it: According to a source familiar with the situation, team president Mark Richardson, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, and older brother Jon, who headed up Bank America Stadium, had clashed in recent years – partly over business-related issues, and partly over Jon’s resentment that his younger sibling had a higher-profile position. As their father’s health declined last year, ultimately resulting in Jerry Richardson’s heart-transplant operation last Super Sunday, Mark and Jon escalated their battle for control. When Jerry recovered and reclaimed his role as the franchise’s prime mover and shaker, he saw that some of the team’s minority owners were uncomfortable with the situation and warned his sons to start getting along, or else. Richardson backed up his threat Tuesday; rather than choosing one son over the other, he got rid of both of them, announcing Mark’s replacement as team president (Danny Morrison) the following day. Gulp. This will make for a reasonably awkward Thanksgiving dinner, don’t you think? Beyond that, it will cause the league’s other owners to feel far less secure about the Panthers’ succession plan. Whereas Mark was a highly regarded heir apparent, no one in league circles knows anything about Morrison, who had been serving as TCU’s athletic director, or what might happen after Jerry is no longer running the team (both sons retain ownership interest). My first reaction after all of this drama was to drop Richardson in the rankings, but the more I thought about the situation, the more I could see his perspective. Richardson, while the controlling partner, is part of an ownership group. Though I’m sure he didn’t relish the thought of firing his sons, doing so sent a message to his partners that he’s putting the business ahead of his personal interests. It’s all very Tony Soprano, and a part of me absolutely digs it. If Morrison turns out to be an unsuitable replacement, Jerry will get dinged in next year’s rankings, but for now I’m leaving him in the No. 3 slot. As the chair of the NFL’s Management Council Executive Committee, he’ll play a pivotal role in the crucial labor showdown that will play out over the next 18 months (or, quite possibly, into a lockout-interrupted 2011 season). I don’t know how the NFLPA will react to his presence across the table, but after what just went down in Charlotte, I have to admit I’m kind of scared of the guy.
--Michael Silver, Yahoo Sports, Full Article
So if what I am getting out of this is correct, his two sons were waging a power war within the organization in an effort to one-up the other in a succession vote. This was making other executives and owners uncomfortable, so Jerry stepped in and said "Shape up or Ship out" then made good on his threat when they didn't change their ways. Take it for what it's worth, but this is the best insight I've seen into why the sons would leave and we would have a new team president the following day.