CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Jerry Richardson, the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise founder, died at his home in Charlotte Wednesday night, according to a family spokesman.

He was 86.

Jerome “Jerry” Johnson Richardson and his ownership group paid $206 million in 1993 to fund the expansion team in Charlotte. Under his ownership, the Panthers went to two Super Bowls in 2004 and 2016.

He resigned as owner in December 2017 when allegations of sexual and racial misconduct surfaced; his statue was removed in June 2020, as the organization said it was a public safety concern, worried that people may try to take the statue down themselves.

Richardson was the Panthers’ only owner until David Tepper bought the team in 2018 for $2.2 billion.

David and Nicole Tepper released the following statement after Richardson’s death:

“Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic.

With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans here a team to call their own.

He was incredibly gracious to me when I purchased the team, and for that, I am thankful.

Nicole and I extend our deepest condolences to Rosalind, the entire Richardson family, and their loved ones.

We wish them much peace and comfort.”

Several online tributes from those associated with Richardson have rolled in, ranging from players, coaches, and many others.

The last coach Richardson ever hired, Ron Rivera, tweeted that was was ‘saddened’ to learn about the former owners passing, saying how grateful he was for the opportunity to coach in Carolina.

Ron Rivera & Jerry Richardson (Courtesy: WGHP)

Greg Olsen, the former Panther tight end, took to Twitter, expressing his condolences to the Richardson family in a video.

“When I think of Mr. Richardson, the first thing off the top of my head comes when it was the worst time in our lives,” Olsen said. “My son TJ was gonna be born with a pretty serious condition. He took us up to Boston’s children’s hospital to make sure we got the best care.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released the following statement:

The Carolina Panthers are a testament to his extraordinary and tireless dedication to the community.  

But his league-first attitude, as seen through his leadership of numerous NFL committees, including the Stadium Committee and Management Council Executive Committee, helped pave the way for a series of public-private stadium partnerships throughout the country and collective bargaining agreements that continue to support the growth of the game. 

As a former player himself, Jerry cared deeply about the welfare of players, and the labor agreements he helped negotiate have led to improved pay and benefits for generations of players. 

From a personal perspective, he was a wise and caring advisor to me, his fellow owners, and many Panthers players and coaches over the years. 

On the NFL’s behalf, I extend our sincere condolences to Jerry’s wife, Rosalind, and their family.”

A public celebration of life will be held at a later date, the family said.