I covered this subject a bit 12 years ago, but it’s worth revisiting …
As the Carolina Panthers prepare to play the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, it’s interesting to look back and discover how Carolina landed an NFL franchise in the first place.
When former Baltimore Colts’ receiver Jerry Richardson first started exploring the idea of starting a franchise in Charlotte, North Carolina in the late 1980s, he wisely turned to a trio of Hall of Famers for help.
Coach Weeb Ewbank’s personal files show that he, former Colts’ receiver/Patriots coach Raymond Berry and former Browns’ offensive tackle/Seahawks coach and general manager Mike McCormack were of immense help to Richardson while he was putting together the franchise.
In fact, McCormack ended up being Carolina’s first general manager and has a statue erected in his honor in the Panthers’ stadium.
In a highly confidential letter from McCormack to Richardson on July 12, 1989, McCormack warns Richardson of the pitfalls of having minority-stake partners.
“Areas of potential problems are the locker room, bench, draft room, association with players, using club and players for their own personal interests, travel with the team, team meals, hotel accommodations, and then double these to include immediate families (non-investors) and friends,” McCormack writes. “My recommendation would be to keep the partners at arm’s length from the players. If the players feel they have a friendly ear, they will try to take advantage of it.
“There are many horror stories within the NFL about partners’ personal relationships.”
After receiving a copy of McCormack’s letter, Berry writes to Richardson: “Mike’s letter is a great start … keep researching by asking people with experience. Compile the data … you’ll be the first who has. The info is out there if you go after it.”
Richardson later writes to Ewbank, his former coach: “This is a big project. The more we discuss your views on our NFL project, the better I understand why you were so successful.”
Trivia Time – Quarterback Joe Theismann first played professionally with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
This week’s question – Who was the first head coach of the Carolina Panthers?