NFL to Continue Jerry Richardson Investigation Despite Owner's Intention to Sell

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2017

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson walks on the field before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Jerry Richardson's decision to sell the Carolina Panthers at the end of the 2017 season won't halt the NFL's investigation into allegations he behaved inappropriately when interacting with employees at team offices.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport spoke with NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart, who said the league is "moving forward with the investigation."

Richardson announced Sunday he intends to put the Panthers up for sale. The Panthers also announced Monday that Tina Becker will assume day-to-day operations from Richardson and take over as the team's chief operating officer.

Richardson's decision to sell the Panthers, whom he has owned since the team entered the NFL in 1993, came after Sports Illustrated's L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein shared details of workplace allegations made against him.

According to Wertheim and Bernstein, Richardson often reached settlements with those making the complaints "in exchange for what amounted to a vow of silence."

Wertheim and Bernstein's report laid out specifics regarding some of Richardson's actions. During "Jeans Day" at team offices, he would ask female employees to turn around "so he could admire their backsides." He'd also perform back rubs on women and try to buckle the seat belts for female passengers during work trips so he could "[brush] his hand across their breasts before putting the belt in the clasp."

The Panthers initially brought in an outside law firm to investigate the allegations against Richardson, but the NFL has since taken over the investigation from the team, per ESPN.com's David Newton.