NFL takes over Panthers investigation into Jerry Richardson workplace misconduct

Friday afternoon featured a surprising piece of news out of Carolina, as the Panthers announced they were initiating an internal investigation into Panthers owner Jerry Richardson for potential workplace misconduct. That investigation did not last even 48 hours, as the NFL said on Sunday morning it was taking over the investigation on a larger league level. 

The Panthers internal investigation, as noted by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, did not sit well with other franchises around the league, who were not thrilled with the situation.

It was problematic too, because Carolina was having Erskine Bowles, the former White House chief of staff who is also a minority owner for the very franchise he was investigating, head up the process.

Richardson was being allowed to stay in the office and to continue operating under the status quo. The NFL would not confirm whether or not that would change, but it is difficult to imagine Richardson continuing to remain in the office while others within the organization are serving as part of the investigation.

During a pregame interview with Bill Voth of Panthers.com, coach Ron Rivera was asked about the situation and sounded fairly cryptic while also supporting his owner as best he could.

"The biggest thing is we wanted to compartmentalize it, separate it from what our task at hand is on the football field today. We talked about it -- one of the things we talked about is you respect who is he for who he has been for you, more so than anything else," Rivera said. "Me, personally, that's the only thing I can really talk on. When we had the house fire, he was there for Stephanie and I and supported us. When my brother passed, he was a tremendous help in getting me out to Reno, Nevada for the funeral and getting me back. He really bent over backwards to help me, and I know he's done that for a lot of people in this city. 

"I think the thing everybody has to remember and understand is his only true focus is he wants to bring a championship caliber football team to the Carolinas."

There have been no specifics released or discussed when it comes to the allegations surrounding Richardson or what the investigation will focus on. 

Richardson, who is a former NFL player, has been owner of the Panthers since 1993, when the Panthers were awarded an NFL franchise. The Panthers first NFL season was 1995.

Carolina is set to play the Packers at home on Sunday in a critical Week 15 NFC regular season matchup.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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