New Panthers owner David Tepper: 'I'm contractually obligated to keep' Jerry Richardson statue

A day after the sale of the Panthers to David Tepper closed, the new owner met with the media to talk about his vision for the future of the franchise. But it was Tepper's final remarks of the press conference that left a lasting impression.

"I'm contractually obligated to keep that statue as is," he said.

Tepper was referring to the statue of Jerry Richardson, who had been the owner since the team's inception in 1995 until December 2017, when it was announced that he would give up control of the team following allegations of workplace misconduct. Last month, the NFL fined Richardson $2.75 million following an investigation that concluded the former owner had engaged in inappropriate behavior.

The Panthers originally unveiled the 13-foot statue, which shows Richardson holding a football and flanked by two Panthers. And while it will remain, Tepper already has plans to improve the organization's culture.

"I can't emphasize enough the openness I plan this organization to have now," he told reporters. "An openness in the team of this organization. I think there has been an atmosphere where the business side of this organization wasn't allowed to be a team and there was not able to go up and talk about things. There's going to be no impediment to that in the future. ...

"I'd like to have an open environment ... where everybody feels safe like a family."

Tepper's comments come a day after he thanked Richardson for bringing the team to Charlotte and entrusting Tepper as his successor.

"I am thrilled to begin this new era of Carolina Panthers football and am humbled by the overwhelming excitement and support for the team," Tepper said in a statement on the team's website. "On behalf of the fans and myself, I thank Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future. Winning is the most important thing both on the field and in the community, and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl championship together. I look forward to being part of the Panthers' family and to supporting this flourishing region."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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