Cover Story: Panthers - Richardson sons resign

By Jeff Atkinson - bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A sports shocker.  The Richardson sons step down from the Carolina Panthers.  Now questions about the future of the franchise and what will this mean for other big sporting events in the Queen City?  PrimeTime's Jeff Atkinson has a look in our Cover Story.

Neither of Jerry Richardson's sons gave reasons for their resignation.

And so many questions surrounding this news.

The season is starting in two weeks.

There is no reason for the resignation, no successor...people in this city, especially fans, must be thinking a whole host of things right now.

The rumor mill is going full tilt.. a shakeup like this among the front office..

Questions like.. is this setting up the Richardsons to sell the team?

Is there a fallout within the family?

Or something even more?

The Richardsons aren't talking.

Jon Richardson had told team members in July that he wanted to step side.

But the departure of Mark Richardson came as a complete shock to people even inside the organization.

Both sons have been with the franchise since the beginning.. since 1993 when the NFL awarded Charlotte a team.

Tonight, star players are even shaking their heads, like Panthers Wide Receiver Muhsin Muhammad.

He says, "Both guys will be missed and for whatever reason that they resigned.. no one knows exactly what that is.. we have all complete trust and faith in Mr. Richardon's ability to own this organization and put good people in place to run it."

The stadium operations were run by 50-year old Jon Richardson.

Brother Mark who's 49 served as team president and initially handed the marketing and Panthers naming rights.

No reason was given for the dual resignation.. and the Richardson family has always held their cards close to their vest.

But as one advisor told us this afternoon this develement even seems uncharacteristic for the family.

And head coach John Fox.. isn't saying much either.  "I enjoyed working with both of them. Only thing I can say I have the utmost trust and confidence in Mr. Richardson doing what's going to be best for this team and organization."

Team investors.. friends of Jerry Richardson learned the news at a meeting this morning.

The "Big Cat" Jerry Richardson turned 73 in July and received a heart transplant on February 1st.. the day of the Super Bowl.

No successors are expected to be named anytime soon.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory like many was shocked by the news.. says he's anxious to see who the city will work with in the future.

Says McCrory, "We've always had a good working relationship. I think the major issue for us down the road is who we'll be working with within the city regarding the Football Bowl Games and possibly the World Cup soccer and other type events that we might want to use Panther Stadium for in the future."

He's talking about the Meineke Car Care Bowl held here every year in December.. and the ACC Football Championships that will be here at Bank of America Stadium next year.

The city's also bidding to host a World Cup in nine years.

No successors have been named.. what's going to happen with the sons?

Both Richardson sons will remain part of the ownership partnership.

And the organization is reiterating tonight that the Panthers are not for sale.