When news came on Friday that the Carolina Panthers were opening an internal investigation into workplace misconduct allegations against team owner Jerry Richardson, more than a few people outside the organization wondered why the Panthers were being allowed by the NFL to handle the probe themselves.
The team’s initial announcement said the examination into as-yet-unspecified allegations would be done by law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, LLP, and led by Panthers limited partner Erskine Bowles.
Whether it was the reaction from other owners or team executives or perhaps the public reaction, the NFL is now going to handle the investigation.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed the news to ProFootballTalk. PFT reports it will be handled by an outside law firm retained by the league.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on “Game Day Morning” on Sunday that the Panthers asked the league to take over.
Regardless of how it came to be that the NFL is taking over the probe, it’s the right thing to do. Last week, the NFL immediately suspended NFL Network employees who have been named in a suit by a former wardrobe stylist at the network who is alleging numerous instances of sexual harassment and unwanted contact.
On Wednesday, during a press conference at the conclusion of a brief set of league meetings near Dallas and before news of the claims made against Richardson, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league takes all such allegations “very seriously.”
“Those issues are important to us, to make sure that all of our employees, whether at the network, the league office or clubs, are working in a safe, comfortable environment,” Goodell said. “And anytime that doesn’t exist, we’re going to make sure we deal with that very quickly and very seriously.”
That should include the most powerful men in the league, the owners. On the surface, at least, it looks like Richardson is being held to that standard.
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