When learning last night that the Panthers are investigating Panthers owner Jerry Richardson for allegations of workplace misconduct, my first thought was this: Why isn’t the NFL doing this?
I’m not alone. As one league source explained it, other teams wouldn’t have the luxury of conducting their own investigation. And few, if any, team personnel other than owners would ever get that level of consideration.
Part of the problem is that, as PFT reported last night, the Panthers told the NFL about the situation only after the Panthers started their own investigation, ultimately overseen by someone who owns part of the team — and thus is a PARTNER of the person who is the subject of the probe. And so the NFL has been caught flat-footed by what only can be perceived as an effort by the team to control the investigation, to manage the fallout, and to engineer the preferred outcome.
The breadth of the Personal Conduct Policy, and the league’s history of aggressively taking action against anyone and everyone ensnared by it, makes the failure to do anything as to Richardson even more conspicuous, and inconsistent. Only five days ago, the NFL immediately suspended three NFL Network on-air employees (Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans, Ike Taylor) based on allegations made in a sexual harassment lawsuit . . . pending an investigation.
Yes, pending an investigation. That same kind of investigation that the Panthers have decided to conduct regarding the person who owns the bulk of the Panthers, overseen by a person who owns part of the Panthers.
This doesn’t mean the NFL will continue to do nothing. But don’t be surprised if that’s what the NFL does; Richardson, after all, was one of the two owners who led the search for a Commissioner in 2006 — and one of the two owners who personally delivered the good news to the man who won the $200 million so far/$200 million to go (and maybe more) job on the fifth ballot.
Whatever it was that prompted the team owned by Richardson to mobilize an investigation against Richardson should prompt the NFL to do the same thing, and to treat Richardson the same way any other person connected to the NFL would be treated.