- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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After a decade or so of making it a point to stay out of the public eye, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson suddenly has become a media darling.
It started right before the end of the NFL’s lockout, when Richardson opened up to reporters at a league meeting. And it hasn’t stopped. Richardson’s been talking a lot and that’s wonderful because he’s a fascinating man with lots to offer.
He repeatedly calls Jones “Coach."
“He wants to be a coach,’’ Richardson said, echoing an observation many fans and media members have made about Jones through the years.
Richardson was insightful as he talked about the labor negotiations and admitting how hard it was to give up hopes of going to an 18-game regular season and talking about the collaborative effort it took to get a deal done.
Richardson also was brutally honest when asked about the chances of Charlotte hosting a Super Bowl and admitting the city and surrounding region don’t meet all the NFL requirements.
“We don’t qualify for the hotels yet,’’ Richardson said. “Yet.’’
But Richardson also walked into some gray area when talking about his predraft interview with No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton.
Richardson asked Newton if he had any tattoos or piercings. The quarterback said no.
“We want to keep it that way," Richardson said he told Newton.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if Richardson has the right to ask those questions. But, remember, there have been reports in recent years about college prospects like Dez Bryant and Myron Rolle being asked questions that might have been even more intrusive. I’ll also leave it up to you to decide if Richardson has the right to tell Newton to “keep it that way." I’ve seen plenty of other Panthers with tattoos through the years.
Richardson’s going to draw some criticism for asking Newton those questions. I just hope he realizes that comes with the territory when you open yourself up to the media. There’s good and bad that can come with that. I just hope Richardson doesn’t hear only the criticism and decide to go back into the bunker for the next decade.