The statue of Jerry Richardson, the former owner and founder of the Carolina Panthers, is being moved from its current location outside Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, the Panthers confirmed on Wednesday.
Richardson, the team's founder and former owner, sold the franchise in 2018 shortly after Sports Illustrated's report that Richardson had allegedly received complaints for sexual harassment against female employees and for directing a racial slur at an African American employee. Richardson was fined $2.75 million by the NFL after the league's investigation substantiated claims of sexual and racial misconduct.
The Panthers, via the team's Twitter account, issued a statement on the status of Richardson's statue.
"We were aware of the most recent conversation surrounding the Jerry Richardson statue and are concerned there may be attempts to take it down. We are moving the statue in the interest of public safety."
Richardson was unaware of plans to move the statue prior to Wednesday, according to Scott Fowler of
the Charlotte Observer. While Richardson reportedly declined to answer questions, his agent, Jim Gray, released the following statement on his client's behalf:
"Mr. Richardson has made no public comments about the Panthers or the NFL since the sale of the team and doesn't plan to do so now as a private citizen. He has worked to treat all people fairly in his business and personal lives and, like many other Americans, is troubled by recent events in Minneapolis, Charlotte, and around the country."
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. Current CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan 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 Carolina 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 above.
The 13-foot statue, located outside the north gate of the stadium, depicts Richardson, who bought the team in 1995, holding out a football in his left hand while flanked by two panthers. The statue, a gift from Panthers minority partners in celebration of Richardson's 80th birthday, has stood outside Bank of American Stadium since 2016.