National Football League to take over investigation into Panthers owner Jerry Richardson

Mike Zimmer

Report: NFL taking over Jerry Richardson misconduct investigation

The Carolina Panthers settled with at least four former employees regarding inappropriate workplace behavior by team owner Jerry Richardson, according to a Sports Illustrated report.

An N.F.L. spokesman said the league had not yet chosen who would carry out the investigation.

The report notes the settlements featured non-disclosure agreements, preventing the parties from talking about the situation. SI reported that it reviewed one such legal document that appeared to be signed by Richardson and were told of other settlements by former employees on the condition of anonymity.

He often would pull the "seatbelt maneuver", per team employees, which involved opening the vehicle 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".

In the report, the Panthers owner allegedly asked female staffers to turn around "so he could admire their backsides", on his way to his office. The scout left the team but employed a Charlotte attorney to negotiate a settlement. Richardson is reportedly referred to only as "Mister" around the organization. Richardson is a former wide receiver at Wofford and with the Baltimore Colts who made his money mostly in the restaurant business.

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Details of the allegations against Richardson have not been revealed. The NFL on Sunday announced that it is taking over the investigation.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday that the NFL will take the lead in investigating Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson for alleged workplace misconduct. We welcome the involvement of the NFL.

The team declined to address specifics when contacted by SI, but Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said Sunday that they asked the National Football League to handle the investigation for "transparency reasons".

Team spokesman Steven Drummond told the Observer he can not comment on the SI report.

In a statement, team spokesman Steven Drummond said: "The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally".

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