Carolina Panthers: The Good, Bad, and #MeToo Ugly Of This Past Weekend

Sunday's extreme highs were good, but the lows were, unfortunately, not weather-related.

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Carolina Panthers
One of several panther statutes around Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.

The Carolina Panthers were victorious Sunday in their home game against the Green Bay Packers. But their overall weekend highlight reel contains some unfortunate low-lights that will be discussed and debated in the weeks to come.

THE GOOD

– With their 31-24 win, the Panthers remain firmly in the playoff hunt alongside NFC South division rivals the New Orleans Saints, who also have a record of 10-4. The Saints, who won their Sunday game against the New York Jets, rank first in the division by nature of both of their victories over the Panthers this year.

Summed up, here’s the playoff scenario for the Cats:

– Pro Bowl TE Greg Olsen and rookie RB Christian McCaffrey had monster games. QB Cam Newton (who also had a good game) has dubbed them the “Caucasian Invasion.”

– Then there was the sweet Cam Newton/Clay Matthews (OLB-GB) interaction right before Newton threw a TD to McCaffrey:

– And WR Damiere Byrd’s first ever NFL touchdown has generated a few new terms for “Touchdown” amongst Carolina Panthers fans:

– Byrd’s game, BTW, was pretty terrific, too.

THE BAD

– Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was inactive for Sunday’s game, and not due to health reasons. He called it a “slap in the face” but says he expects to play in the Sunday home game against Tampa Bay.

– The Thomas Davis (LB) hit on Green Bay receiver Davante Adams. It was definitely not Davis’ finest hour, and he was clearly shaken up about it on the sidelines as though remorseful. Knowing what the locals here do about Davis, the consensus is that it was not intentional (which was why this didn’t make it into the “UGLY” category, though close).

Regardless, Adams – who was diagnosed with a concussion – understandably went on a Twitter rant Monday on Davis’ ‘dirty hit.’ The Panthers veteran, a former Walter Payton man of the year winner, took to Twitter to apologize to Adams and tell him it was unintentional, but it won’t matter. He’ll likely be fined for it and may even face suspension.

– Diddy, Steph Curry, and Colin Kaepernick have all said they want in on buying the Panthers from owner Jerry Richardson (who we’ll talk about in just a bit). Can we just not, please?

THE UGLY

Disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct and racism have brought the “Me Too” movement to the Carolina Panthers as team owner Jerry Richardson came under fire over the weekend after an explosive report was published in Sports Illustrated. Among the allegations:

-SI has learned that at least four former Panthers employees have received ‘significant’ monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by owner Jerry Richardson, including sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout
-The settlements came with non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details

As a result, Richardson made a shocking announcement Sunday postgame that left the Panthers community and the NFL at large even more stunned:

What does this mean for the future of the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte? The Charlotte Observer has a good rundown:

The Panthers are worth an estimated $2.3 billion, and a sale could plunge Charlotte into uncertainty, as the new owners would not be bound to stay in the city long-term. A “tether” tying the team to Charlotte in exchange for stadium improvements funded by the city runs only through June 2019.

The Panthers have a large group of local owners who hold smaller stakes in the team, in addition to Richardson, and it’s possible that some of them could step up to band together and buy the team. Or the Panthers might find a totally new owner, such as local auto racing tycoon Bruton Smith and his family.

Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith and son, CEO Marcus Smith, have both expressed interest in eventually buying the Panthers [in a 2016 interview with the Observer].

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[Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael] Jordan, as a major league sports owner in Charlotte with deep pockets, could potentially be involved in any bids for the Panthers, though he hasn’t publicly expressed any desire to buy the team. A representative for Jordan could not immediately be reached Monday.

As they say, stay tuned.

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