By Rickey Hampton, Editor and Founder of The African-American Athlete,
I knew there was something not right about Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson, who is currently embroiled in some sort of misconduct that is so bad that he is reportedly ready to sell the franchise.
In 2011 when the Panthers drafted quarterback Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Richardson told Newton that he did not want him to have any tattoos. Nor, did he want Newton, who in college wore his hair short, to grow it out.
During an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose in 2011 Richardson described his first meeting with Newton:
“I said, ‘Do you have any tattoos?,’” Richardson explained to Rose. “He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’”
“I said, ‘Do you have any piercings?’ He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’ “
“I said, ‘We want to keep it that way.’ . . . .We want to keep no tattoos, no piercings, and I think you’ve got a very nice haircut.”
Why in the hell would Richardson want to concern himself about tats and haircuts? All he needed to relay to Newton is that he needed to be a responsible citizen in the community, throw and run touchdown passes on the field, and win games.
His statements tell me that Richardson was looking at Newton more as a piece of property, than a man.
Now, to be fair in professional sports the physical makeup of a prospective athlete is critical. You wouldn’t draft a 5-foot-10 guy to be your center in the NBA.
Prospective players are going to go through intense physical inspections, which is no doubt similar to what slaves once did. Of course, there is gigantic difference. These athletes have an opportunity to earn a lifetime of money, unlike slaves who experienced nothing but heartache and tragedy.
That said, there is little doubt in my mind that Richardson was thinking more along the lines of slave owner with his comments about Newton’s appearance, more so than an NFL owner concerned about his new quarterback.
And apparently, it seems, that Richardson’s archaic, inappropriate behavior stretched beyond how his quarterback looks, to how he treats women. According to reports, Richardson reached confidential settlements with four former employees, and faced charges of sexual harassment.
So it seems like instead of Richardson worrying about the appearance of his black quarterback, he should have concerned himself more about his own behavior, like any grown man should.
With the Panthers reportedly up for sale, there is no question the next group of owners should be someone from the black community.
African-Americans have played a critical role in lifting the game of football to the highest of heights in America. Yet, off the field they have often been shunned, despite being more than qualified. Shahid Khan, the Pakistani-born owner of Jacksonville, is the only non-white among NFL owners.
The Panther franchise is worth about $1 billion. There is no question there is enough money amongst the powerbrokers in Black America to purchase a team.
Music mogul Sean Combs said he would be interested in buying a team, and the first person he would sign is Colin Kaepernick. That pronouncement already precludes him from any chance of buying the team. NFL owners want absolutely nothing to do with Kaepernick, who has charged them with collusion.
Oprah Winfrey has the finances, but would she have any interest? Michael Jordan already owns the Charlotte Hornets, and is a legend in North Carolina. In addition, there are certainly groups of wealthy members of America’s black community that could raise the money to make this happen. I can’t say who the next owner, or owners, should be. All I know is that person should be an African-American.
The NFL owes this franchise to a black owner.