ATLANTA — David Tepper showed the NFL’s owners on Tuesday morning that he’s wasting no time hitting the ground running as the newest member of that exclusive club.
In a 9 a.m. meeting with the finance committee to give the purchase approval and move it to an owners vote, Tepper outlined plans to meld his philanthropic efforts in hunger and education with those of other owners in the room. In doing so, he showed his soon-to-be peers that while he knew he had plenty to learn about leading a franchise, there were areas where he could jump in right away.
Some five hours later, the hedge-fund tycoon and Steelers minority owner was officially ushered in by the other owners, via a 32–0 vote.
The small moment before served as validation for those who pushed his candidacy—Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and, of course, Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney were strong advocates—that he’s a good bet to fulfill the promise they saw in him. For those guys, it wasn’t just that Tepper would be good for the Panthers. They believed he’d be good for the league.
Wutgoing owner Jerry Richardson didn’t get the high bid or the native Carolinian that he sought in the process, but he will walk away with a very solid deal. Tepper will pay $2.2 billion in cash, with an additional $75 million deferred, which is about as uncomplicated as a it gets.
When asked if he’d keep the team in town, Tepper empasized in his press conference that he sees Charlotte as the ideal market for the team now and going forward. He also said he like the football leadership in place. Sources say that he sought counsel within the Steelers, and both GM Kevin Colbert and VP Omar Khan gave Carolina GM Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera glowing recommendations.
Where Tepper’s ownership of the team goes from here is anyone’s guess, of course. Plenty of owners have brought promise to the table, only to stumble through their early years leading an NFL team, and it’s hard to forecast who will and won’t fall victim to that.
But as far as his new NFL partners are concerned, Tuesday provided the right kind of start.