CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Mark Richardson knows what David Tepper is feeling this week. On Monday, Tepper closed on his $2.275 billion purchase of the Carolina Panthers, and on Tuesday, the hedge-fund billionaire is scheduled to meet the local media for his first press conference at Bank of America Stadium.
Twenty-five years ago, Richardson, son of team founder Jerry Richardson, celebrated with his father and his brother, the late Jon Richardson, among others when the NFL selected Charlotte as the home of a new expansion franchise. That franchise became the Panthers.
As of this week, the Panthers are, for the first time, no longer owned or run by members of the Richardson family. Jerry Richardson exited in disgrace amid allegations of sexual and racial harassment and financial settlements, reported last year by Sports Illustrated and confirmed in an NFL-commissioned investigation. The investigation included a league-record $2.75 million fine levied against Richardson for his misconduct.
Mark Richardson, who served as Panthers president under his father until 2009, when his father forced out both of his sons in a front-office shakeup, told me Tuesday he hasn’t spoken to his father about the sale. He didn’t — and hasn’t — commented on the ugliness that started late last season and ended with Tepper being approved as the new owner in May.
He offered perspective on the change in ownership and how things have changed for the NFL franchise since 1993, when the league’s owners approved Jerry Richardson’s expansion bid. Money might be the first place to start: Richardson and his partners paid $200 million for the start-up Panthers and sold the team for 10 times as much.
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