Jerome Johnson Richardson Sr. (born July 18, 1936) is an American businessman, former NFL player and former owner in the National Football League (NFL). He established the Carolina Panthers franchise, which he owned for 23 years.
|Born:||July 18, 1936|
Spring Hope, North Carolina
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|High school:||Terry Sanford|
(Fayetteville, North Carolina)
|NFL Draft:||1958 / Round: 13 / Pick: 154|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Early life and collegeEdit
Richardson was born in Spring Hope, North Carolina. After completing high school in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he entered Wofford College, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Richardson was an Associated Press Little All-America selection in 1957 and '58. He still holds Wofford's single-game record with 241 receiving yards vs. Newberry in 1956 and is the record holder for touchdown receptions in a season (9 in 1958) and in a career (21). As a senior at Wofford, he scored 72 points on nine touchdowns, 12 extra points and two field goals. Richardson calls being elected team captain in 1958 his greatest honor. In 1983, he was chosen to Wofford's All-Time Football team as a receiver.
Richardson was active in numerous groups on the Wofford campus; he was a member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, President of the Inter-Fraternity Council, and member of the SCA Cabinet. Honors he received while at Wofford included Distinguished Military Student, Scabbard and Blade Military Fraternity, Sigma Delta Psi, Blue Key National Honorary Fraternity, and recognition in Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges.
Drafted in the 13th round by the defending world champion Baltimore Colts, Richardson played two seasons in the NFL, earning Colt Rookie of the Year honors in 1959. He caught a touchdown pass in the 1959 NFL Championship Game from quarterback Johnny Unitas.
Following his NFL career, Richardson used his 1959 NFL championship bonus with the help of Charles Bradshaw to open the first Hardee's franchise in Spartanburg. The two ended up owning the Hardee's business 50/50. The business expanded rapidly under his hands-on management style. From headquarters in Spartanburg, he co-founded Spartan Foods, which was the first franchisee of Hardee's. He later was the CEO of Flagstar, which was the sixth largest food service company in the United States, controlling 2,500 restaurants and providing jobs for 100,000 employees. He retired in 1995.
For the most part, Richardson has stayed in the background and rarely interferes in the Panthers' day-to-day operations. For instance, when he fired George Seifert after the 2001 season (in which the Panthers went 1-15), he went nine years before holding another press conference at which he took questions from the media—when he announced that John Fox's contract would not be renewed.
One of the few times in which he has directly intervened in football matters came in the 2014–15 offseason, when he refused to re-sign player Greg Hardy in the wake of domestic violence charges. Despite requests from players and coaches to let Hardy have another chance, Richardson said that he made the decision not to do so because "we do the right things."
It had long been presumed that Richardson intended to have his sons, Mark and Jon, inherit the team. However, both stepped aside before the 2009 season, and Jon died in 2013. On January 16, 2013, WBTV in Charlotte reported that Richardson wants the team sold after he dies, but presumably only to someone who will keep the team and jobs in Charlotte.
After the death of Buffalo Bills founder Ralph Wilson in 2014, Richardson was one of only two NFL owners (Houston Texans owner Robert C. McNair being the other) to have owned his respective team for its entire history. After both Richardson's sale of the Panthers and McNair's death in 2018, there remains no NFL owners that have owned their teams for their entire history.
In the 2015 season, Richardson's Panthers reached Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016, after losing only one game all season. The Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos by a score of 24–10. At company expense the Panthers transported and housed a majority of their employees at the Super Bowl.
On December 17, 2017, Sports Illustrated reported that "at least four former Panthers employees have received ‘significant’ monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by owner Jerry Richardson, including sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout." According to the anonymous sources which were the basis for the article, Richardson asked women in the team offices to "turn around so he could admire their backsides" on Casual Friday, among other "disturbing" office behavior.
On the same day, it was announced that Richardson intended to sell the Panthers franchise at the conclusion of the 2017 season. After great interest from the market, in May 2018 Richardson finalized a sale to billionaire and then Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper for an NFL record sales price of 2.2 billion dollars. The deal was approved by NFL owners on May 22, 2018. On June 28, 2018, Richardson was fined $2.75 million for alleged workplace misconduct.
Richardson was hospitalized in Charlotte at Carolinas Medical Center in early December 2008, one month after receiving a pacemaker. Richardson, who had a history of heart trouble and had undergone quadruple bypass surgery in 2002, was placed on a donor waiting list for a new heart two days later. He received a new heart on February 1, 2009, and has since recovered from the transplant.
Richardson and businessman Hugh McColl purchased the naming rights to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's football field in 2011. The stadium was named Jerry Richardson Stadium in 2013 after an additional $10 million donation. The future of the naming rights are now uncertain in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. 
In 2006 and 2015, he was elected to the South Carolina Business and Sports Halls of Fame, respectively.
In 2016 he funded the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, in honor of his wife, on the Wofford College campus. In 2017, he funded Wofford's state-of-the-art Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.
- Jerry Richardson. Knowitall.org. Retrieved on April 19, 2012.
- Hoffer, Richard (October 28, 1991). "The Franchise". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on December 27, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
- Jerry Richardson Tribute. Panthers.com. Retrieved on April 19, 2012.
- Fowler, Scott (2013). 100 Things Panthers Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die. Triumph Books. ISBN 9781600788246.
- Newton, David (March 23, 2015). "Owner says he let Greg Hardy leave". ESPN.
- Reed, Steve (August 9, 2013). "Bears defense shines in 24-17 loss to Panthers". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- Source: Richardson mandates Panthers be sold after death. WBTV, January 16, 2013
- "Super Bowl 50 - Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers - February 7th, 2016". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
- Wertheim, L. Jon; Bernstein, Viv. "Sources: Jerry Richardson, Panthers Have Made Multiple Confidential Payouts for Workplace Misconduct, Including Sexual Harassment and Use of a Racial Slur". Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
- "Former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson $2.75M". NFL. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
- Mike Cranston "Panthers owner Richardson needs heart transplant". Archived from the original on December 15, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2012.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). Associated Press
- Carolina Panthers Owner Has Heart Transplant ESPN, February 2, 2009
- Richard Hoffer (October 28, 1991). "The FRANCHISE: Jerry Richardson quit the Baltimore Colts over a $250 raise in 1961, parlayed a hamburger stand into a fortune, and now could end up owning an NFL team". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 17, 2017.