Football community remembers Panthers founder, former owner Jerry Richardson

Richardson brought the team to the Carolinas in 1993 and they played their first season two years later.
Former players, coaches and members of the community are expressing their condolences after Richardson's passing.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 3:27 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Condolences are pouring in for Carolina Panthers founder and former owner Jerry Richardson.

Richardson’s death was announced Thursday. He was 86.

[Carolina Panthers founder, former owner Jerry Richardson dies at 86]

Richardson was the team’s owner from 1993 until 2018, when it was sold to current owner David Tepper following multiple controversies related to misconduct.

Following the announcement that Charlotte would get an expansion team, Richardson went out of his way to say thank you.

Richardson was remembered by David and Nicole Tepper as a man who “changed the landscape” of sports in the Carolinas with the team’s inaugural season in 1995.

“Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic. With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans here a team to call their own. He was incredibly gracious to me when I purchased the team, and for that I am thankful. Nicole and I extend our deepest condolences to Rosalind, the entire Richardson family, and their loved ones. We wish them much peace and comfort.” -- David and Nicole Tepper

“Being part of the inaugural season is something that I will never forget,” Head Coach Frank Reich said in an issued statement. Reich played in the 1995 season before becoming head coach in 2023.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles also tweeted out her remembrance of Jerry Richardson, alongside public health nurse Alista “Cozzie” Watkins.

Former Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera took to Twitter for his own condolences, expressing his gratefulness for his time as coach.

Rivera was head coach from 2011-2019.

Greg Olsen, former Panthers tight end, HEARTest Yard founder and sports commentator, issued a video reflecting on his own experiences with Richardson.

After finding out Olsen’s son, T.J., would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Richardson flew the Olsen family to Boston Children’s Hospital, then set up a meeting with Levine Children’s Hospital to make sure T.J. would receive proper care.

“Our hearts go out to the entire family. This entire family owes a lot to Mr. Richardson and the Richardson family,” he said.

Former Panthers president and Charlotte Sports Foundation Executive Director Danny Morrison called Richardson a positive influence professionally and personally in the following statement:

“I first met Mr. Richardson when I was a college freshman in 1971. From that point forward, the positive influence he had on my life both professionally and personally over the next five decades was immense. I am appreciative of the time we spent together and the transformational impact he had on the Carolinas—especially, the Charlotte, Spartanburg, and Wofford College communities. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.”

Another former player, Thomas Davis Sr., said that Richardson taught him several life lessons.

“I will forever be grateful for the friendship and the bond that we had,” Davis said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also shared his condolences on behalf of the league.

“The NFL community is deeply saddened by the passing of Jerry Richardson,” Goodell’s statement said, in part. “As a former player himself, Jerry cared deeply about the welfare of players and the labor agreements he helped negotiate have led to improved pay and benefits for generations of players. From a person perspective, he was a wise and caring advisor to me, his fellow owners, and many Panthers players and coaches over the years.”

Goodell also commended the late Panthers founder’s work on NFL leadership committees.