Column: Richardson is just added proof that the owners are the NFL’s biggest problem

By Carron J. Phillips - New York Daily News

Somewhere right now, Donald Sterling is smiling.

He’s no longer the lone face of owner bigotry in sports.

Back in 2014, Sterling, the then-Los Angeles Clippers owner, was banned for life from the NBA, had to pay a $2.5 million fine, and was forced to sell his franchise due to audio tapes, released by TMZ, of him saying really racist stuff about black people and other minorities.

Mind you, Sterling was notorious for his behavior years before the tapes were ever released, and eventually wound up financially winning in the end.

Microsoft owner Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers from Sterling for $2 billion, after Sterling originally paid only $12.5 million for the team back in 1981.

Sterling cashed out, and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson probably will, too.

Richardson has become the hot topic of the day since he announced his intentions to sell the franchise that he founded in 1993, due to the fact that at least four women were paid to remain silent after allegations of workplace misconduct that included sexual harassment and the use of racial slurs.

At this point, I’m starting to feel like hating black people and/or sexually harassing women is a requirement to be an NFL owner.

So how does the NFL fix this issue?

I’m not sure, but more diversity in ownership would be a good start.

At some point, people need to realize just how deeply embedded this culture of inequality is within the NFL.

Texans owner Bob McNair thinks player protests are like “inmates running the prison,” and Giants owner John Mara would rather re-sign a domestic abuser than deal with the “emotional mail” from fans over signing Colin Kaepernick.

Martha Ford of the Detroit Lions is one of the few female owners in the league, and even she tried to pay her players to stop kneeling earlier this season.

Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars is the only person of color that’s a majority NFL owner, but he gave $1 million dollars to support Donald Trump’s inauguration.

If the people of color and women in the room can’t be counted on to take up the fight against the other owners, then who can?

Well, Diddy and Steph Curry want to try.

When the news broke that Richardson was going to sell his team, Sean “Diddy” Combs immediately jumped on social media to throw his hat in the ring.

Diddy has been trying to buy a team since 2013.

“I have aspirations to become — it will happen — to become the first African-American majority owner. Not having a small stake but actually owning an NFL team,” Diddy told Bloomberg back then. “I think it’s time for that. A majority of the players in the NFL are African-American but there are no African-American owners. So that’s one of my dreams.”

Diddy wants to turn the halftime show into a Bad Boy video.

But more importantly, he wants to sign Kaepernick.

And Curry, a Charlotte native and fellow Under Armour endorser/friend of Cam Newton, apparently “wants in.”

Could this wind up happening?

Cue the Michael Jackson popcorn meme.

In the last two years, I’ve learned that anything is truly possible.

A team led by a black quarterback, with two black owners, in a city that is progressively becoming one of the best cities for black people to live, would be something to see.

However, let’s get back to the situation at hand. Because as cool as the future of the Carolina Panthers could be, right now, their ownership situation is a mess.

Yet again, sexism and racism have reared their ugly heads in sports, proving that it’s pretty much impossible and irresponsible for social issues and sports to be separated.

The NFL has rules and guidelines for how they handle things when players do something wrong on or off the field, and I think it’s time that some guidelines to be put in place for the people who own the teams.

It is often said that the leaders are the ones who set the tone inside of a locker room or a corporation.

So, if that’s true and if the NFL wants to truly fix itself, it should stop worrying about who’s doing what in the locker room, and concentrate on how to clean up the luxury suites.


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By Carron J. Phillips

New York Daily News