Founder And Former Owner Of The NFL’s Carolina Panthers Dies At 86


Jerry Richardson, who is responsible for bringing the NFL to the Carolinas, died on Wednesday March 1st, 2023. He was at his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the time. He was 86 years old. No cause of death was given. His family plans to have a private funeral service and another public celebration of life service at a later time.

Richardson grew up in North Carolina and played football at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 1959, he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts. He then went on to open the first Hardees franchise in Spartanburg.

With the millions he made, Richardson decided to bring the NFL to the Carolinas. He purchased the Panthers for $206 million and built their new home, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Richardson owned the team until mid-season in 2017 when he was forced to sell the team amid a scandal. Four former employees told Sports Illustrated that they were paid for their silence, but they anonymously accused Richardson of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace. Richardson ended up selling the team to David and Nicole Tepper for $2.275 billion.

Upon learning about Richardson’s death, the Teppers released a statement explaining, “Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional football in the Carolina’s are historic.” They added, “With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans here a team to call their own. He was incredibly gracious to me when I purchased the team, and for that I am thankful.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodall also released a statement about Richardson’s passing. He stated, “The NFL community is deeply saddened by the passing of Jerry Richardson. The Carolina Panthers are a testament to his extraordinary and tireless dedication to the community. But his league-first attitude as seen through his leadership of numerous NFL committees … helped pave the way for a series of public-private stadium partnerships throughout the country, and collective bargaining agreements that continue to support the growth of the game.”

Thomas Davis was a linebacker for the Panthers from 2005-2018. Davis shared his thoughts about Richardson on Instagram, writing, “Mr Richardson taught me so many life lessons over the years and I will forever be grateful for the friendship and the bond that we had. I am truly heartbroken and sad over the loss of my friend. I was able to become the player that I became because of him.”


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Throughout his lifetime, Richardson was also known for giving back. Learn more about his philanthropy in the video below.

Rest in peace.