NFL taking over workplace misconduct investigation into Panthers owner Richardson

December 17, 2017 GMT

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday that the NFL will take the lead in investigating Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson for alleged workplace misconduct.

Reports surfaced Friday that the franchise’s 81-year-old founder would be subject to an internal investigation. In a statement Friday, the Panthers said the team and Richardson take the allegations very seriously and are committed to a full investigation, which they said would be headed by international law firm Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart and Sullivan LLP and overseen by minority leader and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

The NFL apparently has taken over that investigation. The league has a spotty record at best in handling player investigations and discipline in the past, so handling such a high-profile case isn’t surprising, but it will be quite revealing. Expect public scrutiny — no matter what the findings — to follow.

In a separate report Sunday, from Sports Illustrated, it was revealed that at least four former Panthers employees have received payouts from Richardson for sexual misconduct and at least one instance of directing a racial slur toward an African-American Panthers scout.

The payouts came with non-disclosure agreements, accoding to SI, and the Panthers didn’t issue an additional comment when contacted by SI beyond Friday’s statement.

Richardson, who in 1993 became the first former player since George Halas to own a team, has been one of the league’s more influential owners over the past two-plus decades. He’s credited with helping broker a new collective bargaining agreement, as co-chairman of the NFL Executive Committee, in 2011.

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