The Carolina Panthers issued a strongly worded statement denying a report that owner and founder Jerry Richardson could sell the team.
Jason La Canfora of cbssports.com reported Sunday that “many other owners” expect the Panthers to be sold before Richardson dies. The report also mentions “growing sentiment that this could become more of a front-burner issue this offseason.”
Richardson, 80, is missing the owners meetings for the second consecutive year. He stayed in Charlotte this week while a six-member executive team traveled to Phoenix to represent the Panthers.
Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said Richardson is healthy and shot down the suggestion that Richardson wants to sell the team he brought to the Carolinas in 1995.
“Mr. Richardson is healthy, vigorous happy and fully engaged in the business of the Carolina Panthers. The team is absolutely not for sale,” Drummond said. “These reports are based on the misinterpretation of an agenda item. No owner is more committed to his team than Mr. Richardson.”
The agenda item Drummond referred to involves the purchase of part of the ownership stake held by former minority owner Donald Keough, a former Coca-Cola executive who died in 2015.
Marilyn Keough, his widow, was listed among the team’s partnership group in 2016 before she passed away in October.
Drummond said the Panthers need approval from the other owners to buy back Keough’s 4 percent ownership stake.
When the Panthers sought public money in 2013 for renovations to Bank of America Stadium, team officials said Richardson’s will calls for the team to be sold within two years of his death.
Last year Forbes estimated the Panthers’ value at $2.075 billion, 23rd among the NFL’s 32 teams.