Carolina Panthers founder, former owner Jerry Richardson dies at 86
The team announced his death on Thursday.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Jerry Richardson, the founder and former owner of the Carolina Panthers, and native Carolinian, died at age 86 on Wednesday night, the team announced Thursday.
Richardson brought professional football to the Queen City on Oct. 26, 1993 when the Panthers were awarded an expansion bid, with the franchise kicking off its inaugural season two years later in 1995.
He owned the team until 2018 when it was sold to current owner David Tepper.
Following the announcement of Richardson’s death, the Tepper family released the statement below:
“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.”
His legacy in the Carolinas went beyond the Panthers, as he played college football at Wofford College in Spartanburg, where the team has held every training camp since its inception.
The native of Spring Hope, N.C., oversaw the Panthers reach the Super Bowl twice during his ownership and brought in some of the team’s most beloved players, including Cam Newton, Thomas Davis, Steve Smith and countless others.
The Panthers reached the playoffs eight times under Richardson, winning six division titles.
Prior to his ownership stint, he played two seasons of professional football, both with the Baltimore Colts. He caught 15 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns.
Richardson was also a businessman, becoming the first franchisee of the fast-food chain Hardee’s. He later expanded his southern fast-food ownership role to include a major investment stake in Bojangles, and while serving as CEO of Flagstar, ran the Denny’s restaurant chain.
The football stadium at UNC Charlotte is also named in his honor, as does Wofford’s basketball arena.
Richardson was forced to sell the franchise following allegations of misconduct that surfaced in 2017.
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