CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers are removing the Jerry Richardson statue from the front of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte Wednesday afternoon, for safety reasons, the team said.
The Carolina Panthers issued a statement Wednesday addressing the statue removal. The team says they are removing the statue in the interest of public safety.
“We were aware of the most recent conversation surrounding the Jerry Richardson statue and are concerned there may be attempts to take it down. We are moving the statue in the interest of public safety,” the statement read.
According to the Charlotte Observer, there has been speculation online that the statue would be an eventual target of the protests against systemic racism that have been happening since the death of George Floyd. The Observer says if the statue was toppled there could have been injuries to protesters or others nearby, and that is part of the Panthers’ reason for removing it now and moving it to an undisclosed location.
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper purchased the franchise for a record $2.2 billion in 2018, but part of the contract included keeping this statue.
According to a 2019 article from The Charlotte Observer, Tepper previously said he was “contractually obligated” to keep the 13-foot statue of team founder Jerry Richardson outside the north gate of the stadium.
Richardson was fined $2.75 million by the NFL after a months-long investigation found allegations of sexual and racial misconduct by Richardson.
The statue, featuring a 13-foot tall Richardson flanked by snarling Panthers, was given to Richardson by the team’s minority partners on his 80th birthday in 2016.
Richardson was the team’s founder and owner from 1993 until 2018, when he sold the club to David Tepper following an NFL investigation that found Richardson guilty of multiple instances of workplace misconduct. The league’s months-long investigation substantiated claims of sexual and racial misconduct -- claims originally published in a Sports Illustrated 2017 story.
Charlotte DOT says South Graham Street is closed between West Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and South Mint Street for construction and is expected to reopen by 8 p.m.
It appears the accompanying Panther statues were being removed as well.
Jim Gray, spokesman for Jerry Richardson, issued a statement on the former Panthers owner’s behalf.
“Mr. Richardson has made no public comments about the Panthers or the NFL since the sale of the team and doesn’t plan to do so now as a private citizen. He has worked to treat all people fairly in his business and personal lives and, like many other Americans, is troubled by recent events in Minneapolis, Charlotte, and around the country,” Gray said.