Longtime Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Sunday his intention to sell the team following reports of sexual harassment allegations.
And Jerry Jones, his friend and counterpart in Dallas, is none too pleased.
“I’m very sad,” Jones said after his Cowboys defeated the Raiders Sunday night in Oakland. “Jerry is one of the really, really, really outstanding men of football that I’ve ever met, and I really admire him. I know that he made it the old-fashioned way. He worked for it. He took what he made in a short time in pro football and turned it into a great business and then used that to get the Carolina franchise. So he’s a great story.”
Richardson, 81, said in a letter on the team’s website that he won’t begin the sale process until the conclusion of the season. The announcement came after Sports Illustrated reported that Richardson paid off at least four women to keep quiet following allegations of workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment and using a racial slur at an African-American team scout.
According to SI, Richardson allegedly made inappropriate comments about women’s appearances on “Jeans Day” every Friday, asking them to show him their backsides before running through a series of one-liners:
“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?”
Richardson also allegedly touched female employees and asked them if he could shave their legs and if they could massage his feet.
The allegations, including the use of a racial slur, led to confidential settlements that were accompanied by non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses, according to the report.
“I’m saddened by any of the stories or things that might have incited this at this time,” Jones said, according to ESPN. “He’s a battler; he’s a big man with a big heart. And by the way, that’s somebody else’s heart — he’s had a heart transplant.”
Richardson, a former receiver for the Baltimore Colts, received a heart transplant in 2009 that saved his life. He and his ownership group paid $206 million in 1993 for the expansion franchise. The Panthers are now valued at $2.3 billion, according to Forbes.
“He’ll be the first to tell you he’s had a blessed life,” Jones added, per ESPN. “I’m really sad. I want all of those kind of men we can have in the National Football League.”
Jones has also been the subject of unseemly allegations. In 2014, an Oklahoma stripper filed a sexual assault lawsuit against him, which a Dallas judge dismissed.
The Panthers said on Friday that the team would investigate Richardson’s alleged workplace misconduct. However, ESPN reported Sunday that the NFL would be taking over the investigation.