The team said in a statement, "We were aware of the most recent conversation surrounding the Jerry Richardson statue and are concerned there may be attempts to take it down. We are moving the statue in the interest of public safety."
The Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler reported Thursday that the statue will not be put back up in front of Bank of America Stadium and that the team wants it out permanently.
The statue was given to Richardson as a gift for his 80th birthday in 2016. He was the team's founder and owner until he sold the club to David Tepper in 2018 for more than $2 billion.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Tepper said in 2018 after taking over the team that he was “contractually obligated” to leave the statue where it was.
At the time, Sports Illustrated reported that it became clear that the statue had become part of the deal with a source telling Sports Illustrated in 2018 that, “As long as that team is in the Carolinas, which will likely be forever because Mr. Tepper has no intention of moving them, as long as they are the Carolina Panthers, that statue needs to be there."
However, the Observer reported Thursday that Richardson has "turned that page and isn’t going to champion any lawsuits."
Sources told the Observer that Richardson, 83, wasn’t initially aware the statue was being taken down before the work began on Wednesday. Richardson declined to answer questions to the Observer about the statue through his spokesman, Jim Gray.
Gray did release the following statement to the Observer: “Mr. Richardson has made no public comments about the Panthers or the NFL since the sale of the team and doesn’t plan to do so now as a private citizen. He has worked to treat all people fairly in his business and personal lives and, like many other Americans, is troubled by recent events in Minneapolis, Charlotte, and around the country.”
The Panthers went up for sale in late 2017 shortly after Sports Illustrated reported that Richardson and the team made multiple confidential payouts for workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment and use of a racial slur with a team scout.
An NFL investigation later confirmed claims that he sexually harassed employees and made racist comments and the league fined Richardson $2.75 million.