At the end of 2017, Sports Illustrated issued a report that published accusations against Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, accusations that included reports of sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur. A number of monetary settlements were doled out because of his conduct.
After the report came to light, Richardson was essentially forced to sell the team, which was eventually purchased by Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper for the price tag of $2.2 billion. Soon after the sale, Richardson was fined nearly $3 million stemming from his workplace misconduct.
In light of the recent news, Alan Faneca finds himself wondering what is to become of the New England Patriots after owner Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution. Kraft’s charge was just one part of a much larger human trafficking investigation, but it’s unclear how extensive the ramifications will be within the NFL.
“I think I’m right, but wasn’t Jerry Richardson forced to sell the Panthers for office misconduct?”, Faneca asked via Twitter yesterday. “If so, the Patriots, as of this afternoon, are for sale. What’s that price tag?”.
Jupiter, FL police chief announced the charges yesterday, and “insists that video evidence confirms that Kraft, who reportedly owns a home in nearby Palm Beach, and the other 24 suspects were involved in sex acts while in a spa”.
Here’s the thing though, with regards to what Faneca said. The league did not force Richardson to sell the Panthers, although it’s possible that they ‘strongly encouraged’ him to do so behind closed doors. Ostensibly, it was a decision that he made on his own. They did fine him $2.75 million, but they did not, on the surface, require that he sell the Panthers.
So even if everything comes out as it might seem, that Kraft legitimately did solicit prostitution, and that there is conclusive evidence supporting that—though I highly doubt there would be any proof that he knew there were ties to sex trafficking—that still doesn’t mean he would be required to sell the franchise.
“If Kraft admits to wrongdoing or is found guilty of wrongdoing the mostly likely NFL outcome is that he is suspended and/or fined”, Michael Mann writes. “It’s also possible Kraft could temporarily or even permanently lose his membership on influential NFL committees”.
“As to possible loss of draft picks for the Patriots over Kraft’s alleged misconduct, don’t expect that to happen. Article VIII contemplates the loss of draft picks as suitable when misconduct ‘affects the competitive aspects of the game’. Personal misbehavior by an owner is unrelated to the competitive aspects of the game”.
When it comes to the Patriots, they are the team that everyone outside of New England loves to hate, and any possibility of breaking up their triumvirate of Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady is gleefully embraced. But we’re a long way off from knowing anything more about Kraft’s situation.