Jerry Richardson Statue, Charlotte
The now removed statue of Jerry Richardson featured him wearing a business suit striding forward. His left hand was extended, holding a football, as if to hand it off. The statue stood 12 feet, 10 inches tall, purposely double Richardson’s actual height, atop a two tier four-foot high bronze and stone pedestal. To either side were two gigantic, snarling panthers. The panther to the right was leaping upward and was formed in the likeness of the outline of North Carolina. The panther to the left was crouched down as if ready to pounce and was in the likeness of South Carolina. Per the sculptor Todd Andrews "each panther represents more than one thing. One represents the offense, the other the defense . . . and because of what they are and who they’re standing next to; they represent North Carolina and South Carolina. And then you take all three of them together, and I think of them as three panthers because Mr. Richardson is definitely a panther." The sculpture was titled "The Tribute." Still present around the stadium are six large panther sculptures by the same artist. Those figures are titled "The Indomitable Spirits."
THE INDOMITABLE SPIRITS WHO GUARD OUR STADIUM WERE LED HERE BY A MAN WHO TOOK US BEYOND WHERE OTHERS EVEN IMAGINED. IN THIS PLACE, FOR THIS PLACE – HIS RELENTLESS DRIVE INSPIRED A DISPLAY OF UNITY IN THE CAROLINAS WORTHY OF THE WORLD’S STAGE. ON THE OCCASION OF JERRY RICHARDSON’S 80TH BIRTHDAY, THIS SCULPTURE IS DEDICATED AND COMMISSIONED AS A LOVING GIFT TO HIM AND HIS FAMILY BY HIS PARTNERS.
July 18, 2016
35.225900 , -80.852900 View in Geobrowse
Alston, Wali. “Jerry Richardson Receives Statue Outside Bank of America Stadium,” WCCB, July 18, 2016, (accessed May 28, 2023) Link
Boren, Cindy. “Carolina Panthers Go Literal With a Statue to Honor Their Owner,” The Washington Post (Washington, DC), July 19, 2016, (accessed May 24, 2023) Link
Fowler, Scott. “Panthers Take Down Statue of Founder Jerry Richardson,” The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), June 11, 2020
Jones, Jonathan. “Carolina Panthers Unveil Sculpture of Owner Richardson,” The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), July 19, 2016
Jones, Jonathan. “Jerry Richardson: Statue Reinforces the Hubris of Former Panthers’ Owner,” Sports Illustrated.com, July 10, 2018, (accessed May 28, 2023) Link
Lacour, Greg. “Without Warning, Panthers Remove Jerry Richardson Statue,” Charlotte Magazine (Charlotte, NC), June 10, 2020, (accessed May 28, 2023) Link
Wertheim, Jon L, and Bernstein, Vivi. “Sources: Jerry Richardson, Panthers Have Made Multiple Confidential Payouts for Workplace Misconduct, Including Sexual Harassment and Use of a Racial Slur,” Sports Illustrsted.com, December 17, 2017, (accessed May 29, 2023) Link
The statue was given to Richardson by the football team’s minority owners on his 80th birthday.
Jerry Richardson played college football at Wofford College in South Carolina and then two years in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts. After the NFL, Richardson and a partner opened the first Hardee’s franchise in Spartanburg, SC in 1959. His restaurant business expanded rapidly and by the time of his 1995 retirement he was CEO of a company that controlled 2000 restaurants across the United States. He used his wealth, business acumen and ties to the NFL to be awarded a franchise in 1993 for what became the Carolina Panthers.
Following the massacre of nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015 by white supremacist Dylann Roof, Americans, especially southerners, have reflected on and argued over the historical legacy of slavery, the Civil War, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. Monuments have been a particular focus of these debates and controversies, especially after the death of a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 and after President Donald Trump expressed his opposition to the removal of Confederate memorials. Despite laws in many southern states intended to prevent or impede the removal or relocation of historical monuments, protesters and local community leaders have removed or relocated controversial monuments associated with slavery, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. The pace of the removal of controversial monuments accelerated sharply in 2020, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Against the backdrop of protests against police brutality and white supremacy across the nation, local authorities in many communities in North Carolina removed and/or relocated monuments that were the focus of civil unrest.
Nearly two weeks after the unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper had the sculpture of former team owner Jerry Richardson and two panther figures removed from outside of Bank of America Stadium. The team had become aware of a possible attempt to take the statue down and on June 11, 2020 it was disassembled and moved to undisclosed storage “in the interest of public safety.”
The memorial to Richardson, the founder and majority owner of the team during its inception in 1997, had become controversial after Richardson had been forced by the National Football League (NFL) to sell the team in 2018. In late 2017 it had been revealed that four former Panthers employees had received monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by Richardson. His actions included sexually suggestive language and behavior and at least one racial slur directed at an African American employee. Richardson was fined $2.75 million but sold the team for $2.275 billion of which he likely received $1 billion for his ownership share.
As part of the sale, new owner, David Tepper had been contractually obligated to retain the statue. He was able to remove it using the same tactic that saw many of the Confederate memorials in the state come down. North Carolina statutes prohibited removal of certain public memorials but many communities succeeded in doing so “in the interest of public safety.
An in depth description of the accusations leading to his forced sell of the Panthers can be found at Jerry Richardson: New details on allegations against Panthers owner.
The statue was placed in storage at an undisclosed location outside of the Carolina Panthers Football stadium complex in Charlotte, NC.
Before being removed in June 2020, the statue stood outside of the south entrance to the Carolina Panthers football stadium in Charlotte, NC.