Jerry Richardson, the founder and former owner of the Carolina Panthers died at the age of 86 on Wednesday night, the team announced. The team did not reveal the cause of death.
Richardson, who was a halfback at Wofford College, was the 154th player selected in the 1958 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts. However, he retired following his second season in the league over a money dispute and returned to Spartanburg, South Carolina where he started a career in business.
Richardson became the first former NFL player to own a team since George Halas when the league awarded Carolina a franchise in 1993. The Panthers inaugural season was in 1995.
In December 2017, Richardson announced that he would sell his principal stake after the team began investigating him for “workplace misconduct.”
In 2018, David Tepper, founder of the hedge fund Appaloosa Management, agreed to purchase the team for a reported $2.2 billion, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“Jerry Richardson’s contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic,” Panthers owners David and Nicole Tepper said in a statement. “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 bought 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.”
Under Richardson, the Panthers reached two Super Bowls and three NFC title games.