For all the other emotions of NFL owners, every one of them is also breathing a small sigh of relief at Jerry Richardson’s decision to sell his team amid allegations of sexual and racial misconduct — simply because that storm hit someone else’s shores first.
Because at a time when the investigations of bad behavior by powerful men has reached the highest offices of Hollywood to the halls of Congress (and beyond), the reality is that nearly every organization that employs powerful men is going to have to deal with this.
That said, Richardson was part of one of the biggest old boys’ clubs in the world, and his fellow members were hit hard with the news.
“I’m very sad,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said last night, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “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 into a great business and then used that to get the Carolina franchise. So he’s a great story.”
Of course, Sunday’s story from Sports Illustrated that detailed allegations of sexual misconduct and using racist language toward employees will be the one that defines Richardson’s legacy, for all the other things he’s done as a businessman and an owner. That’s why he volunteered to sell his team at the conclusion of the season.
It will overcome the fact he was the only former player to own an NFL franchise, or the many kind things he did for his other employees. Jones also noted that Richardson was doing much of this on borrowed time, after the 2009 heart transplant that saved his life.
“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. . . .
“He’ll be the first to tell you he’s had a blessed life. I’m really sad. I want all of those kind of men we can have in the National Football League.”
Of course, in life, timing is everything. Jones himself emerged safely from a 2014 lawsuit from an Oklahoma stripper (which was eventually dismissed) which accused him of some unseemly things of his own. But that story hit at a time when women who come forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment weren’t named Time Magazine’s person of the year.
Jones has since gone on to still own his team, and be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.