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Jerry Richardson Remains Trusted Figurehead for NFL Owners

Feb 16, 2011 – 6:27 PM
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Ray Glier

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Jerry Richardson came off as a bully in a January press conference in Carolina talking about the affairs of the Panthers. He later sounded apologetic through a Charlotte newspaper columnist.

At the time, some NFL people who have been around the NFC South for a few years, said Richardson is usually a gentleman and respectful. They said his scolding of a female reporter, for example, in that January press conference was out of character.

I found him more pleasant at the owners' meeting in Atlanta. I walked a long hallway with him talking about labor issues and before he ducked in the bathroom he said, "wait here a minute for me."

He came out and we carried on.

The news this week suggests Richardson had another "moment." There were reports he belittled the quarterback Peyton Manning in the pre-Super Bowl session.

Here is the news. The Charlotte Observer ran a story today that said the owners are still behind Richardson as their guy in the labor talks. The owners have lawyers, but they rely on Richardson as a sort of point man for them.

Here is a statement the newspaper received from New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft:

"Since the Panthers joined the NFL, Jerry Richardson has been one of the league's most influential owners, frequently bridging any gaps among the ownership groups on various issues. His unique background as a former NFL player and successful businessman helps form a perfect personality to co-chair the owner's negotiating committee. Anyone who has ever heard Jerry speak at the owners' meetings knows that he has reverent regard for the players in this league.

"He has the full support of the other owners in the NFL who remain hopeful that we will reach an agreement with the players' union by March 4."

Kraft is always at the side of commissioner Roger Goodell, or vice versa. If there was any thought by the league to push Richardson to the side, it would have come from Richardson, who is the only former player who is an owner.

Jim Irsay of the Colts warned of moments like this a month ago. Maybe the moment is past and there is going to be negotiating without the raw emotion.
Filed under: Sports