There's only one way for Panthers to remove the "stain of the bombshell report on Jerry Richardson," reports the Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler.
Sport Illustrated's damning report came just before the Panthers and Green Bay Packers kickoff Sunday. It alleged several instances of racial slurs and sexual harrassment, including an infamous "jeans day," in which Richardson made comments to female employees.
The NFL is very image-conscious, and Richardson’s image just got tarnished with the sort of stain that no amount of scrubbing is going to wash away completely, wrote the local reporter. And now, believes Fowler, "Richardson will sell the team sooner rather than later. This would make his fellow owners happy, assuming the allegations are true."
The report detailed how four women had been paid off after coming forward with workplace complaints against Richardson.
In addition to verbal harassment - including commenting on female's backsides during Jeans Day at the Panthers' facility - Richardson consistently "engaged in improper acts."
Sources told Wertheim and Bernstein that Richardson would ask female employees to visit him during a workday in his suite inside Bank of America Stadium, and would often be alone with junior employees. One former female employee alleges that Richardson came into the room barefoot and asked for a foot massage.
"The first time, you thought it was an important meeting with the owner," said one female employee who received such an invite. "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.
Other multiple former employees told Sports Illustrated that "there were also occasional racial overtones in Richardson’s interactions with his workers."
The Panthers announced they'd launched an internal investigation into Richardson's misconduct Friday, and on Sunday, the team confirmed that the NFL would be taking over the inquiry.