On Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers took down the statue of founder and former owner Jerry Richardson and moved it to an undisclosed location. The Panthers issued a statement shortly after passerby noticed the workers tinkering with the 12-foot, 10-inch structure outside of Bank of America Stadium -- saying there was concern an attempt may be made by others to take it down. The decision was made in the interest of "public safety."
One has to wonder if the Panthers would ever want to return the statue of their disgraced former owner back to its original spot -- something that CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones does not believe will happen. Richardson sold the franchise in 2018 shortly after Sports Illustrated's report that he had allegedly received complaints for sexual harassment against female employees and for directing a racial slur at an African American employee. He was fined $2.75 million by the NFL after the league's investigation substantiated claims of sexual and racial misconduct. Richardson was unaware of plans to move the statue prior to Wednesday, according to Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer. While he reportedly declined to answer questions, Richardson could always challenge Carolina's decision to remove the structure. According to a new report, that will likely not happen.
On Thursday, Fowler reported that the statue is not important to Richardson and that he has "turned the page" on that chapter of his life. The source also said that Richardson, who owned the team from 1993-2018, does not plan to champion any lawsuits advocating the statue's return to the stadium. Another source of Fowler's said the team wants the statue to be removed permanently.
During his 2018 introductory press conference, current Panthers owner David Tepper said he was "contractually obligated" to keep Richardson's statue outside Bank of America Stadium. Jones wrote at length about what that phrase entailed for Sports Illustrated back in 2018, and at that time it appeared the statue would be tied to the Panthers indefinitely. Jones also explained in 2019 that the only way to get rid of the statue is if it became a "safety hazard," which aligns with the team's statement issued on Wednesday.