David Tepper approved as new Panthers owner, says team staying put

The NFL unanimously approved hedge fund founder David Tepper as the new owner of the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday during its May meetings in Atlanta.

The 60-year-old Tepper bought the team for a reported $2.275 billion from founding owner Jerry Richardson. Richardson put the Panthers up for sale several months ago after a Sports Illustrated report detailing numerous allegations of sexually predatory behavior toward female employees and at least one financial settlement to a black scout that he called a racial slur.

Immediately after he was approved, Tepper spoke with media members.

David Tepper held a news conference on Tuesday after receiving approval from the NFL’s owners to become the new owner of the Carolina Panthers. (AP)
David Tepper held a news conference on Tuesday after receiving approval from the NFL’s owners to become the new owner of the Carolina Panthers. (AP)

Doesn’t fully address elephant in the room

Tepper was asked if he plans on making changes to the front office’s culture. But he demurred, saying he hasn’t officially purchased the team yet as it officially changes hands in July.

“Well I can’t change much before I actually buy the team, and I don’t know exactly what’s there because I haven’t been there,” Tepper said. “So for me to exactly speak about that as far as what I’m going to do is almost impossible.

“But I’ll say this – and this has nothing to do with whatever is there because I don’t know – but for me a couple of things: I’ve had a business for 25 years, and I’m a person that believes for equality for everyone, men and women. Versus me talking about what happened – anything good, bad or indifferent in the past – the past is the past, and the future will be that.”

Saying you believe in equality for men and women is akin to saying you feed your children; Tepper could have taken things a step further and said he’s committed to creating a work environment where all employees feel respected and valued. Alas.

‘It’s the Carolina Panthers’

A Pittsburgh native who had been a minority owner of the Steelers for the past nine years, Tepper affirmed that he has no plans to move the Panthers, though he didn’t rule out a new stadium. The Panthers’ current home, Bank of America Stadium, opened in 1996.

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“What’s the name of the team? The Carolina Panthers. It’s going to be the Carolina Panthers,” Tepper said. “There is a logical place for this team, and it’s Charlotte. It is the Carolina Panthers. That means this team has to have some kind of presence in the Carolinas.

“Listen, Charlotte is the logical place for a stadium. As far as a new stadium, you’re asking me too much. The only thing I have a market on right now is a lack of knowledge – I’ll call it stupidity. I’ve got that down. I’ll learn a lot more in the future. I’m a person who likes to know what I know and know what I don’t know. I don’t want to say too much about what I don’t know.”

3 tenets of ownership

While Tepper was affable, making some jokes and being self-deprecating, he resorted to a hackneyed phrase when discussing goals with his new team.

“The first thing I care about is winning. The second thing I care about is winning. And the third thing I care about is … [winning]. That’s on and off the field,” Tepper said. “That includes the charity aspect, the community aspect and how we make a community better. You win in a lot of ways, and I don’t like to lose in any way.”

With Forbes estimating his net worth at $11 billion – he paid for the Panthers in cash – Tepper hasn’t lost much, at least in the business world.

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