2017-12-17 14:39:03
N.F.L. Taking Over Investigation of Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson

14:39, December 17 304 0

The N.F.L. said on Sunday that it would take over an investigation of Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who has been accused of what the team is calling “workplace misconduct.”

The announcement came less than two days after the club said it had begun its own investigation of Richardson’s behavior. That inquiry, though, was to be conducted by a North Carolina-based law firm and led by Erskine Bowles, the former White House chief of staff, who is also a minority shareholder in the Panthers.

The team did not provide specifics about the allegations against Richardson. The league is already facing accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault from a former wardrobe stylist for NFL Network.

Six current and former NFL Network employees, including five former N.F.L. players, have been suspended.

Taking action against an owner may not be as easy, particularly one as powerful as Richardson. Now 81 and in poor health, he has been the team’s only owner, dating to the club’s founding in 1993. His two sons no longer work for the team, and he has said that the team will be sold when he dies.

Though he has stepped back from the league’s affairs in recent years, he remains one of the most powerful owners, and has many allies among his fellow owners. He is the only current owner to have played in the N.F.L.

An N.F.L. spokesman said the league had not yet chosen who would carry out the investigation. In the past, the league has taken months to publish its findings, and sometimes weeks more to assess penalties.

But given the focus nationally on sexual harassment, domestic violence and other related issues, the league may be forced to act more quickly, much like the N.BA. did after the furor over Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was caught on tape making racist remarks.

In April, 2014, N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver permanently barred Sterling, who reluctantly sold the club for $2 billion to Microsoft magnate, Steve Ballmer.

The most analogous case in the N.F.L. came nearly 20 years ago when San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from a corruption case involving former Louisiana governor Eddie Edwards.

The N.F.L. fined DeBartolo, who was also barred him from actively controlling the 49ers for a year. Rather than return to the league, DeBartolo ceded control of the team to his sister, Denise York.

DeBartolo was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.