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NFL Claims They Are Not Forcing Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson to Sell Team

The NFL made it clear Thursday it isn’t forcing Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to sell the team while he is under investigation for sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace, the Associated Press reports.

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said during a conference call that “there was no pressure from the league on Mr. Richardson” to sell his team . Lockhart said Richardson “came to the conclusion over that weekend that putting his team up for sale was what he wanted to do. We found out about it shortly before the announcement came out.”

The NFL plans to hire an outside counsel to conduct the Richardson investigation, but a final decision has not been made on which firm.

Lockhart said the league didn’t know about the allegations against Richardson until Friday, the same day the Panthers put out a stunning news release first announcing its own investigation of Richardson’s alleged workplace misconduct. That was followed on Sunday by a Sports Illustrated report that detailed Richardson’s alleged misconduct.

Lockhart said the NFL is expecting full cooperation from the Panthers.

There is a huge concern among the fan base that new ownership might move the team from Charlotte.

“The league, as we have said in a number of different contexts, our first choice is always for franchise stability,” Lockhart said. “The franchise in Carolina has been successful both on the field and from a community impact.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he wants to see the team stay in Charlotte, and added he planned to call local Charlotte officials to discuss what he can do from a state government perspective.

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