After a chaotic Sunday during which a Sports Illustrated report described allegations of sexual and racial misconduct by Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, including significant financial settlements with at least four former employees, and Richardson’s announcement of his intent to sell the team after the season, head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media Monday afternoon.
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, offensive coordinator Mike Shula and tight end Ed Dickson also weighed in on the matter.
Rivera says he did not read the details of the allegations against Richardson
“I think they’re all very serious, and I do have a lot of concern about it,” he said. “But I have got to be honest with you, I have not read them. Because I’m going to wait until the investigation is done before I draw any conclusions. I think that’s the fair thing to do, I don’t want anything altering my thought process.
“I think the investigation will take a life of its own, I believe it will be a thorough one.”
Rivera added that the people involved in the investigation, implying inclusion of alleged victims, “should all be heard and respected.”
Wilks also said he had not read the allegations, but would carve out the time in the afternoon to “educate himself.”
“The accusations, to me, are serious,” he added. “And no one should be subjected to that. I think we all should wait until the actual investigation is completed, make sure we all have the facts to be able to speak on the situation more intelligently.”
The NFL said Monday that it would continue the investigation into Richardson.
Panthers tight end Ed Dickson, one of the few players in the locker room on Monday, said the allegations “were what they were. It wasn’t pretty.”
“Personally, it’s sad to me. The whole thing,” he said. “We work to be better people, better individuals, whatever you want to call it. To see that happen, it saddened me as an individual. I have a lot of respect for our owner, he gave me the opportunity to come here and further my career and do the things that I need to do as a football player. And I can only touch bases on a personal level from my standpoint of view.”
Rivera says he has not witnessed any racial or sexual misconduct within the organization
“No, I have not,” he said. “As I have said before, I can only speak on myself personally, and the things I’ve been around. I’ve been here and it has been a great situation. As I said, it’s been a very supportive situation in terms of giving opportunities and creating opportunities for myself, for this football team and for the people that work for the organization.”
Wilks echoed that sentiment, saying he has not witnessed or faced those types of misconduct or faced racial discrimination as a Panthers employee.
“In my six years here, I never encountered anything of that sort and never heard of that,” he said. “Again, I’m just going to wait and see what comes through the investigation.”
Rivera addressed the team on Monday
“They didn’t have any questions,” he said. “I did address it again. The reason I did was because of the news that came out last night. I don’t know a lot of what is going on. And as the statements that have been put out in order, I think the statements speak for themselves as far as those things are concerned.
“This is a very serious issue and I don’t want to cast any doubt on anything until the investigation is complete.”
Rivera has spoken with Richardson
“I did speak with Mr. Richardson last night,” he said. “He was terrific in terms of our conversation. And that’s when I found out, just before it was announced, that he was going to make a move to sell the team. And that’s it. I don’t want to get into the personal nature of our conversation. I think that’s between he and I.”
Rivera’s original reaction to the announcement of intent to sell
“Well, you know, just kind of surprised and taken aback a little bit,” Rivera said. “Disappointed, obviously, for the news. But we will certainly go forward.”
Rivera hopes the team stays in Charlotte
“Very much so,” he said. “I believe this organization has had a tremendous impact on the Carolinas. I believe it has truly helped the growth of this city and this community. It’s been a source of pride and goodwill, and I’d like to see it continue. I just think that this is a great community, very supportive fan base that’s been out there for us. I know they’ve been here for me, most certainly, and this football team. And I hope that somehow it’s able to stay here.”