Jon Gruden controversy brings back memories of Jerry Richardson fallout

It’s not a stretch to say the swirl involving Gruden resurrects memories connected to former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson
The Jon Gruden controversy isn't the first scandal in the NFL. Carolina once had their own fallout with a prominent team figure.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:05 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - One of the most recognizable names and faces in the game lost his job this week.

Jon Gruden resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after years-old emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic language became public.

The NFL has been trying to tackle the issues of inclusiveness facing our broader society. There are now female referees and assistant coaches. The Raiders -- actually have on their team right now -- the first active NFL player who has come out as gay. And you’ve seen the on-field support for racial justice causes.

But the NFL’s sensitivity to these issues goes back a little further. Not too long ago, a flashpoint was seen right here in Charlotte.

Before the floodgates opened and more derogatory emails emerged, Gruden was contrite.

“I’m not a racist. I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize,” he said.

His apology came before a New York Times bombshell report which went beyond race and targeted women who refereed NFL games, players taking a knee, openly gay football players, Presidents Obama and Biden, and league commissioner Roger Goodell.

It’s not a stretch to say the swirl involving Gruden resurrects memories connected to former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and allegations of racism in his personal life and the restaurant empire he once owned.

Richardson, the owner and founder of the Carolina Panthers, announced he would be selling the team at the end of the 2017 season. This came less than 12 hours after Sports Illustrated released a scathing report detailing workplace misconduct involving sexual harassment and racism.

Richardson was fined $2.7 million by the league following accusations of directing a racist slur at a team employee and claims by female employees of sexual harassment.

The selling saga lasted through two owner’s meetings during 2018. David Tepper then bought the team.

For those keeping score of the former Panthers owner business dealings, they may remember it’s not the first time the issue of race fueled a flashpoint.

Headlines across the country rolled off the presses when Richardson in 1993 signed a $1 billion fair share agreement with the NAACP.

The payout came following complaints of discrimination that surfaced when African American U.S. secret service agents, who according to published reports, were denied service at the one of locations of Denny’s restaurant that was part of his Flagstar corporation.

It morphed into a class action suit and blew up as he was still perusing an NFL franchise for the Carolinas.

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