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Former Panthers owner and NFL player Jerry Richardson has passed away

The Panthers long time owner and creator died at age 86

NFL: Super Bowl 50-Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers broke the news of the passing of Jerry Richardson on Thursday afternoon.

The news broke rather abruptly as there was no word of Richardson’s health being at risk. Multiple fans, former players, and coaches took to the media to share their memories and experiences with Richardson over the years. Frank Reich and Dom Capers, both back in Carolina in 2023, shared their words after being here for the Panthers inaugural season.

Jerry Richardson played in the NFL for two seasons, but his impact on the league and football came when he changed the landscape of Carolina sports, becoming the owner of the Carolina Panthers in 1993, where their first season ever was played in 1995.

Reich and Capers were a part of that first squad, as quarterback and head coach respectively. Richardson presided over the team for 23 years, before the sale of the team to David Tepper in 2018. During that time, the Panthers made the Super Bowl twice as Richardson largely remained in the background while allowing his staff to focus on the operations (save for a few decisions you could probably count on one or two hands).’

Richardson brought football to a place where it otherwise wouldn’t have been, and set the framework for Charlotte to bring in two more professional sports teams in the years since. In addition, Richardson did a great deal to invest in the Carolinas between charitable donations and gifts to their schools and other efforts, including $260 million dollars in gifts to his alma mater, Wofford College. One thing is certain; Richardson cared about the Carolinas, especially about improving the sports infrastructure.

Multiple sexual harassment and misconduct* allegations led to Richardson selling the team before he wanted to, as he spent the last few years of his life away from the team following the sale to David Tepper in 2018. It’s a mark that will forever be associated with his legacy. I don’t believe this is the time to rehash conversations we’ve had for the many years since, though I did feel it was important to mention them. That said, I believe it is the reader’s choice to pass their own judgments of Richardson in that regard.

I am thankful for everything Jerry Richardson has done for the Carolinas, and I am grateful that he made it his mission to bring a professional football team that I love to Charlotte. Rest in Peace, Big Cat. Thank you for the memories.