Jerry Jones was four years into his ownership tenure of the Dallas Cowboys when Jerry Richardson was awarded an expansion franchise by the NFL in 1993.
On Sunday, Jones said the situation surrounding Richardson’s decision to sell the Carolina Panthers saddened him.
“I’m very sad,” Jones said after the Cowboys’ win at Oakland. “Jerry is one of the really, really, really outstanding men of football that I’ve ever met and I really admire him. I know that he made it the old-fashioned way. He worked for it. He took what he made in a short time in pro football and turned it in to a great business and then used that to get the Carolina franchise. So he’s a great story.”
Richardson, amid allegations of workplace misconduct, announced Sunday night in a letter on the team website that he plans to put the NFL team he founded up for sale after the 2017 season.
The letter came after Sports Illustrated published a story reporting the Panthers settled with at least four former employees regarding inappropriate workplace behavior by Richardson.
Richardson, 81, allegedly made verbal comments about women’s appearances, inappropriately touched female employees and made advances to women that included asking whether he could shave their legs and for them to give him foot rubs. The allegations also included the use of a racial slur that led to a settlement with the scout and comments made by Richardson about black players’ appearances and his threat to discipline players who addressed social issues.
“I’m saddened by any of the stories or things that might have incited this at this time,” Jones said. “He’s a battler, he’s a big man with a big heart. And by the way, that’s somebody else’s heart — he’s had a heart transplant.”
Richardson, a former receiver for the Baltimore Colts, was hospitalized in 2008, one month after receiving a pacemaker for heart problems. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2002 and was placed on a donor waiting list for a new heart. He received the new heart in February 2009, and has not had any known setbacks since.
“He’ll be the first to tell you he’s had a blessed life,” Jones said. “I’m really sad. I want all of those kind of men we can have in the National Football League.”
Information from ESPN’s David Newton was used in this report.