It was reported on Sunday morning that the NFL is taking over for the Carolina Panthers in the investigation of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson’s alleged workplace misconduct.
And Sports Illustrated’s L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein of SI.com released a lengthy report on the allegations, which feature disturbing sexual and racist behavior. The report also says that at least four former Panthers employees “received significant settlements from Richardson or from the team in exchange for what amounted to a vow of silence.”
The SI report opens with a paragraph on how Richardson treated women during “Jeans Day”:
Friday was Jeans Day, when most staffers at the Carolina Panthers team offices would wear denim to work. The female employees knew what that meant. As the team’s owner, Jerry Richardson, made his rounds on the way to his spacious office, he would ask women to turn around so he could admire their backsides. Then, in his rolling Southern drawl, he’d offer comment, drawing from a store of one-liners he’d recycle each week. Among those in heaviest rotation: Show me how you wiggle to get those jeans up. I bet you had to lay down on your bed to fit into those jeans. Did you step into those jeans or did you have to jump into them?
Among the other details of Richardson’s inappropriate sexual behavior, the owner allegedly “had a special interest in female grooming,” and multiple female employees told SI that he “asked them if he could personally shave their legs.”
But multiple former female employees recount that Richardson’s behavior began to feel like a violation when he spoke of their bodies. He had a special interest in female grooming, they say. He would notice when their nails were not up to his standards, and pay for them to get manicures. Multiple female employees recalled to SI that Richardson asked them if he could personally shave their legs.
Former employees allege that in addition to verbal harassment, Richardson engaged in improper acts. According to sources, on multiple occasions Richardson requested female employees to visit him during a workday in his suite inside Bank of America Stadium. The women would be escorted by Richardson’s assistant, who would then depart, leaving the owner alone with a junior employee. One former female employee recalls Richardson, who stands 6’3″, arriving barefoot and asking for a foot massage. Says one such invitee: “The first time, you thought it was an important meeting with the owner. You [then] realized it was never anything that couldn’t be discussed over the phone.” Others talk of Richardson giving back rubs that lingered too long or went too low down the spine.
And disgusting details on a “seatbelt maneuver” Richardson allegedly used on women.
Richardson was also known for what multiple women call the “seatbelt maneuver.” He would invite female employees out to lunch, and in keeping with his reputation as a self-styled gentleman, he would open the car door for his guests. Once they were seated, however, he would insist on fastening their seatbelt for them, reaching across their lap and brushing his hand across their breasts before putting the belt in the clasp.
The article has details of in examples of racism from Richardson, including an instance in which he “directed a racial slur at an African-American scout of the Panthers.”
Perceptions of casual racism hardened recently when, multiple sources told SI, Richardson directed a racial slur at an African-American scout for the Panthers. The scout left the team this year—but not, according to sources, before he sought the counsel of a Charlotte attorney who negotiated a confidential settlement on his behalf. Contacted by SI and asked if he wished to comment, the scout responded, “I’m not in a position to talk.”
The entire article is well worth your read, and you’ll come out of it thinking that there’s very little chance Richardson is still the Panthers owner for very long.