Toward the end of 2017, it was announced that Jerry “Big Cat” Richardson abused his position as owner of the Carolina Panthers to have female employees take full spins around so he could check them out in their jeans on casual Friday. One such employee claimed that Richardson made multiple sexual advances, including calling her to his stadium suite, only to give her a full leg massage that included rubbing her crotch. Oh, and if the sexual assault allegations weren’t bad enough, he also reportedly called a black employee a “nigger.”
Richardson had been this way for a while. In fact, all of this came to light after four former employees spoke with Sports Illustrated anonymously, stating that they’d all reached financial settlements with Richardson in exchange for silence.
But the NFL knew that he was a problem. How could it have not known?
Nevertheless, after the SI story broke, Richardson announced that he was selling the team and would step down from his day-to-day role. The NFL launched an internal investigation and decided to hit Richardson with a $2.75 million fine on his way out the door. At this point, the fine is a symbolic gesture and a minimal one at that, considering that a hedge fund manager just paid some $2.2 billion CASH for the team.
According to a statement from the NFL viewed by ESPN, most of the money from the fine will be “used to support the work of organizations dedicated to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside of the workplace.”
To fully grasp the level of disgusting that Richardson, 81, displayed during his time as owner, here’s an excerpt from the letter of one of his victims published in SI:
“I didn’t know what to do when you called me to your stadium suite in the middle of the week so you could take off my shoes, place my legs in your lap and rub their entire length, from toes to crotch,” the woman wrote in the letter. “I didn’t know what to do when you asked me to turn around so you could see how my jeans looked. I didn’t know what to do when you brushed my breasts to put my seat belt around me in the front seat of your car. I didn’t know what to do when you put your hands on my mouth, for me to kiss them. I didn’t know what to do when you asked me uncomfortable, sexually charged questions.
“I didn’t know what to do. So, I did what you told me to do.’’
The independent investigation, conducted by former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, found that the accusations against Richardson were indeed truthful. White called for an end to “nondisclosure agreements to limit the reporting of potential violations or cooperation with league investigations” and to “require workplace misconduct claims to be reported to the league office.”
Richardson abused the power that he had as the team’s owner, and let’s be serious: A $2 million fine to a disgraced owner who just sold his team for over $2 billion isn’t even a moral victory.
The NFL is having a crisis of character.
Currently, Washington’s football-team cheerleaders are claiming that they were forced to pose topless while VIP team members watched. Former NFL players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid are still without jobs for protesting the deaths of unarmed black men, women and children by cops. Both Kaepernick and Reid are currently involved in a collusion case against the league, claiming that owners conspired to keep them off the field. Not to mention that President Donald Trump can’t stop bashing the league for players taking a knee to protest black death during the national anthem. Oh, and let’s not forget the individual cases of domestic violence and chronic traumatic encephalopathy that are openly plaguing the league.
The NFL could have made a symbolic move against Richardson that actually held some weight, but hitting a man with a million-dollar fine when he just made a garbage-truck-ful of cash by selling his team is a waste of time.