Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Big Cat has still got it

The Big Cat was back Thursday at Panthers practice, and he looked lean and mean.

Jerry Richardson’s surprise appearance had the same sort of effect on Carolina’s workout as it used to when the principal unexpectedly walked into the room where your teacher was teaching to “observe” the class. Everyone sat up a little straighter.

SO every Panther seemed to run a little faster Thursday while Richardson looked on from a golf cart, old banking buddy Hugh McColl Jr. at his side. Richardson has obviously lost weight since his heart transplant in early February. He looked fit.

As I wrote in Wednesday’s paper, Richardson could and should give PR lessons to Michael Jordan if Jordan ever ends up joining him as a majority owner of a Charlotte pro sports franchise.

OThe thing about Richardson’s people skills, though, that can't be duplicated – they aren’t the least bit fake. Richardson has always been a genteel Southern charmer, arm-twisting so adeptly that people find themselves going along with him before they’re even sure what they’ve agreed to.

A crowd of about a dozen media types awaited Richardson on his golf cart at the end of practice, hopeful of getting one of Richardson’s rare group interviews.

Richardson wasn’t about to give one of those, you could tell. But rather than zipping by with a quick, royalty-inspired wave (par for the course for most owners I've been around in this sort of situation), Richardson stopped the cart, got out, shook everyone’s hand and introduced himself to the few media members he didn’t know. Then he made a little small talk and thanked everyone for their thoughts, prayers and letters during his surgery and recovery.

Then Richardson got back in and sped off in the golf cart, leaving an aura of good feelings – without ever giving the interview.

I’m telling you, the Big Cat has still got it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

And then the big cat fired a good portion of his staff...raised ticket prices...raised concession prices...and basically did nothing to improve the team. Go big cat go!

Anonymous said...

Amen, brother! This guy is way overrated as an owner.

Anonymous said...

That's a bogus criticism for an owner who greenlights a payroll that hits the salary cap limit year after year after year. Firing a good portion of his staff? You mean some behind the scenes layoffs like every other company, profitable or not, has done during the recession?

Anonymous said...

Call me bogus if you will, but we'll see how unprofitable the Panthers are when they're forced to open their books by the new head of the NFLPA. Richardson gets too much credit as a "successful" owner.

Anonymous said...

Overrated? So a guy who has successfully created a small market team that annually sells out games, has been to 4 playoffs, 3 NFC championships and 1 Super Bowl in its 13 year existence, and has expanded its fan base beyond just Charlotte to all of the Carolinas, is an overrated owner? He is widely considered one of the most influential owners in the NFL and is credited with having a large part in the development of the league. He also is extremely respectful to his staff, runs his business with class, and is known for being intolerant of trashy, poor ethical behavior. So would you rather be a fan of the Bengals, Lions, or Raiders? How can you call this guy overrated? What exactly is your knock on him? Some hunch that the team is not profitable? That while he was laying in bed getting a new heart his staff didn't do much in the offseason? Or are you just one of those people that thinks if you go against the grain you'll sound like you know something everyone else doesn't and they'll think you're smarter? Well sorry you sound like an idiot.

J said...

Yes, please elaborate on the "overrated" comment. Overrated compared to who? Would you rather have William Clay Ford, Al Davis or Jerry Jones and the train wrecks those franchises have become? And in case you have forgotten, the Panthers were the 4th best team in the regular season last year. The playoff loss was largely due to ineffective coaching (let's stop their run game and let Larry Fitzgerald roam free - yeah, that's the ticket!), so there is no need for a major roster overhaul. And to echo an earlier commenter, the Panthers have had to react to the recession just like everyone else.

I'm very curious to hear some specifics on why Richardson is not a great owner.

Anonymous said...

First off,ticket prices did not go up this year.Second how do you know concessions have gone up this year?Correct me if I am wrong,but we don't have a game at BofA until the 3rd week of august.I have seen Mr.Richardson on several gamedays out mingling with fans.How many other NFL owners get that close to fans?When a player displays a negative projection as a Panther,they are quickly diciplined and change or they are gone.There is one star in the NFL that lost it's luster with the firing of Tom Landry.That star will not shine again until they stop recruiting problem children.

Wild Cat said...

It seems we don't have true PANTHER fans in the Carolina's. I traveled to Clemson their first year and Mr. Richardson was always there talking to fans, allowing photograghs to be taken, etc. He is a class act and I truely appreciate what he has brought to us. He takes care of business and don't allow thugs on our team. Good for him. Just because he had to cut back in the office does not make him a bad owner. The company I work for has done it time after time so why would the NFL not be any different. Go Panthers Go.

Anonymous said...

You are the most popular sports columnist for the Observer. You should of gotten that ESPN spot instead of Yasinskas. He thinks that Mark Fields played on the 2003 super bowl team.

Gabriel McKee said...

Jerry Richardson is a class act.

Brandon said...

Hats off to Richardson. You don't even have to ask Panther fans what they think of him. Just read how many NFL owners, staff, and even the commissioner himself respect Jerry Richardson. These naysayers are natural idiots.

Anonymous said...

OVERRATED

Anonymous said...

The one thing I can't stomach or forgive with "the Big Cat" is the big dis he gave the city of Charlotte, where the team is located and 90% of its fanbase resides, by calling his team the CAROLINA Panthers instead of The CHARLOTTE Panthers. The city could have used the publicity boost that would have provided. People across the country may as well think the team is located in Raleigh or some backwater city in SC. It's especially galling since he managed to use the PSL concept to get Charlotte fans to pay for half the stadium construction without realizing any of the vast team profits. Indeed, that "equity" with the team can evaporate if one fails to renew season tickets for even one year. Nice.

Yep, the Big Cat still has it. And people like Scott are still buying it.

JAT said...

Well, when Yaz left we were stuck with Tom S. -- who admits he does not report his conversations with the Big Cat and sat on Jerry's upset with Keyshawn for about 4 months -- and Scott, who today goes all the way the tank for the guy.

Look, he is a nice man and we are all happy the ticker is back working, but he is not above criticism.

The day Mike Minter retired it was obvious Jerry made a HUGE mistake in calling out Pep in such a public fashion. The Big Cat has never apologized for that clumsy move and what passes for Panther coverage in this town is afraid to bring it up, despite the Pep mess the franchise now finds itself in.

The storyline for this season is already set down on Tryon St: Isn't it great to have the Big Cat back for this season of transition?

It'll be the bestest 6-10 season ever!