Panthers remove controversial Richardson statue

FILE PHOTO: Carolina Panthers team owner Jerry Richardson watches his team warm up before playing the Green Bay Packers in an NFL football game in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 18, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Keane/File Photo

The Carolina Panthers began removing a controversial statue of franchise founder and former owner Jerry Richardson outside of Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday.

“We were aware of the most recent conversation surrounding the Jerry Richardson statue and are concerned there may be attempts to take it down,” the team said in a statement. “We are moving the statue in the interest of public safety.”

Richardson sold the team to David Tepper in 2018 amid allegations of sexual and racial misconduct.

Richardson was fined $2.75 million by the NFL following an investigation into complaints of sexual harassment of female employees and the use of a racial slur when referring to an African-American scout.

The 13-foot statue of Richardson holding a football and flanked by two panthers was unveiled in 2016 to celebrate Richardson’s 80th birthday.

Tepper, who purchased the team for a record $2.2 billion, said during his introductory press conference in 2018 that he was “contractually obligated” to keep the statue in place.

With the national conversation focused squarely on race relations following last month’s death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Tepper seems to have found a way out of that obligation.

--Field Level Media