The NFL announced Sunday it’s taking over the Carolina Panthers’ investigation into owner Jerry Richardson’s workplace misconduct.
Turns out there’s plenty to investigate.
Richardson has a long history of making sexually inappropriate comments toward female Panthers employees and reached “significant” cash settlements with at least four of those employees in exchange for their silence, Sports Illustrated reported Sunday in a lengthy exposé.
Unfortunately, SI’s revelation that Richardson paid off employees who complained about his misconduct isn’t as disturbing as the reported details of Richardson’s misconduct. For example: When female Panthers employees showed up to the team office on “Jeans Days,” Richardson would ask the women to “turn around so he could admire their backsides” before delivering incredibly crude one-liners, such as “Show me how you wiggle to get those jeans up” and “I bet you had to lay down on your bed to fit into those jeans.”
Richardson also had “a special interest in female grooming,” according to female Panthers employees, and would ask women “if he could personally shave their legs.”
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The 81-year-old owner, who is referred to simply as “Mister” by staffers, was known for giving “back rubs that lingered too long or went too low down the spine.”
He often would pull the “seatbelt maneuver,” per team employees, which involved opening the car door for female employees but then “insist(ing) on fastening their seatbelt for them, reaching across their lap and brushing his hand across their breasts before putting the belt in the clasp.”
Richardson is one of the NFL’s longest-tenured owners and has owned the Panthers since their inception in 1995. But his reputation should take a serious hit amid these latest allegations.
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