Engulfed in a workplace misconduct scandal that involves sexual harrassment and racist behavior, Jerry Richardson has announced that he will sell the team.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Over the weekend, Sports Illustrated revealed why the Carolina Panthers had launched an investigation into owner Jerry Richardson for "workplace misconduct." At least four former employees signed "'significant' monetary" settlements with the owner for a laundry list of offenses that ranged from unwanted sexual behavior to directing a racial slur at a former African American scout.
As the NFL announced that it would be taking over the team-led investigation, Richardson released a statement saying that he would be selling the team because it was "time to turn the franchise over to new ownership." He never acknowledged the investigation, or Sports Illustrated's reporting, but it seems pretty clear why now is the "time to turn the franchise over."
Owning an NFL team is essentially a license to print money, so naturally a lot of people are interested, including rap mogul Diddy. And Colin Kaepernick. And local son Steph Curry. Diddy has been tweeting and Instagramming about it since Richardson announced his intention to sell and made the bold statement that if he becomes owner, he will "immediately address the Colin Kaepernick situation" and bring him in to compete with Cam Newton for the starting position.
Richardson founded the team in 1993, paying $206 million to bring professional football to Charlotte. According to Forbes, the franchise is now worth $1 billion. That's uh, that's a lot of money. Diddy, however, has a lot of money. Also according to Forbes, his net worth is $820 million, making him the richest man in hip hop. Curry and Kaepernick don't have that kind of cash, but they could go the Derek Jeter route and invest a small portion to become a minority owner. If Diddy successfully bid on the team—a rather large if—he would become the first African American majority owner in the NFL.
If we have learned anything from this NFL season, and this particular moment in time in this country, Diddy becoming the first black owner of a football team is a desperately needed development. NFL owners have successfully co-opted Kaepernick's police brutality protests, waged war on their players' freedom to express themselves, and created work environments where a boss's sexual harassment was written off as "more of a creepy old man thing." Most importantly, the NFL needs a breath of fresh air, but also, Carolina's halftime shows would absolutely be the best in the league. Let's make this happen.
It may be a while before we find out who is actually in the running, however, because Richardson said he would no consider any bids/prospective ownership groups until after the Panthers play their last game of the season.