There was a time when Jerry Richardson was one of the most respected owners in the NFL. In the last few weeks Richardson has managed to tarnish his reputation.
A few weeks ago, Richardson held a very awkward press conference.
Most recently, he’s been described as being condescending and demeaning by people close to the NFL Owners / NFLPA labor negotiations.
The national media has gotten wind of this, and he’s starting to become the villain in many circles.
Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports has written a piece entitled “Time to bench Richardson from bargaining game“, in which he states:
But at this point Richardson’s role as the co-chair of the league’s negotiating committee has become an impediment to potential labor peace, which means one of two things: Either the owners have no intention of trying to strike a deal before the March 4 expiration of the current CBA and are hell-bent on a lockout (or, possibly, claiming an impasse in negotiations and imposing the terms of a “last, best offer” while daring the players to strike) or Richardson needs to go.
As one perennial Pro Bowl player told me Monday morning, “When the owners want to get serious, they just need to get him out of the room – because we’ll never get a deal done with him in there. It’s not professional, and it’s not good business.”
I also suspect that because Richardson was instrumental in helping convince his fellow owners that the ’06 CBA extension was necessary – a move that proved to be unpopular, given the unanimous vote in 2009 to opt out of the deal two years early – he’s trying to make it up to them by being a hard-liner and demonstrating his commitment to winning back as many union concessions as possible.
So I’ll try to cut him some slack – but I also think Richardson needs to step back, count his blessings and give up his spot at the table to one of his peers who is more adept at keeping his cool.
If that doesn’t happen, I have another suggestion: The union should fight fiery temper with fiery temper and insist that one of Richardson’s players is present for every remaining session.
Yo, Steve Smith – How would you like a seat at the bargaining table?
Silver’s article also mentions how other owners present at the meeting apologized for Richardson’s behavior afterward, and also stated the Richardson apologized to Peyton Manning for being so hot-headed.
One player, according to Silver, was “so pissed. Peyton was breathing heavily, and some of us were about ready to jump across the table.”
Aaron Wilson from the National Football Post writes that “Richardson needs to cool off or the owners need to send in a replacement negotiator.”
And how is this good for the Panthers? Their owner is the central impediment to a deal being negotiated. How will players react to this? Will high quality players want to play for Richardson? Did the fact that Richardson owned the Panthers have any effect on Stanford QB Andrew Luck returning to school?
It’s an embarrassing situation for both the Panthers and Panther fans to be in. Richardson has said he won’t make any comment on the situation. Given his recent track record, I think that’s probably the best-case scenario.