Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is putting franchise up for sale

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 8:28 PM

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has owned the franchise since its inception, and now he is putting it up for sale.

On Friday the Panthers announced that they were investigating Richardson for workplace misconduct. Then on Sunday, Sports Illustrated published a report from L. Jon Werthiem and Viv Bernstein that reveals several allegations of sexual harassment against Richardson, and one allegation of him using a racial slur against a black employee.

Also included in that report is that the employee, a former scout, who was slurred and three women all received monetary settlements from in exchange for signing non-disclosure agreements. The NFL had announced on Sunday that it would be taking over the investigation into Richardson.

The Panthers have released a statement from Richardson, and in it he says that he will be selling the franchise at the end of the season. In the statement there is no mention of the investigation or the Sports Illustrated story. He was in the owner’s box for the Panthers’ Week 15 win against the Green Bay Packers.

Here are the final two paragraphs of the statement.

I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership. Therefore I will put the team up for sale at the conclusion of the NFL season. We will not begin the sale process, nor will we entertain any inquiries until the very last game is played. I hope everyone in this organization, both on and off the field will be firmly focused on just one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl.

While I will no longer be the team owner, I will always be the Panthers Number One fan.

 

College Football Championship: What’s on tap tonight?

Published: Saturday, January 06, 2018 @ 8:20 PM

We asked a few Bulldogs what they’re listening to before the game. The resounding answers were: Migos and country music. (Erica A. Hernandez/AJC STAFF)

8:16 p.m.  Brrrrr. It’s cold in Centennial Park! Fans are awaiting Charlie Puth, Jason Derulo and Lizzo.

5:51 p.m. Check out the latest pictures from today, including team practices by UGA and Alabama:

PHOTOS: The scene as Georgia and Alabama get ready for the championship game

4:37 p.m. The gates have opened for tonight’s AT&T playoff playlist concert, which caps off a full day of fan activities downtown. Our music writer, Melissa Ruggieri, has some information to help you plan

Meanwhile, the UGA players checked in at the Downtown Hyatt, but also bused back to Athens after fan day activities to practice within their own facilities at the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall football complex.

3:25 p.m. If you are heading to tonight’s championship game concert bundle up! WSB-TV forecasters say tonight should be clear and downright cold. A low of 21 is expected, and there’s no rain in sight. Gates open for the show at 4 p.m.  Jason Derulo and Charlie Puth will kick off the show in Centennial Park night, along with special guest Lizzo.

Jason Derulo

2 p.m. A slew of Georgia and Alabama fans were flocking to Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center for Fan Playoff Central events Saturday afternoon. But, so far, traffic gridlock hasn’t happened. 

“Currently, traffic is moderate with minimal to no congestion,” Atlanta police spokesman Donald Hannah said about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. 

He said no serious crashes were reported.

1:30 p.m. We gleaned some important intelligence during media day: what’s on the playlists of the Georgia Bulldogs. Quarterback Jake Fromm said he was partial to country — he listed Eric Church and and Thomas Rhett as favorites — with a little rap and gospel music thrown in for good measure. Listen to what some gets some other players pumped before the big game.

1:15 p.m. Downtown Atlanta is jammed with college football fans for all the festivities. But a reminder that a clear bag policy is in place even for the pre-game events

12:10 p.m.: Media Day attracted more UGA fans than Alabama backers, which is understandable, considering the game is in Georgia and it’s been 37 years since the Bulldogs last won a national championship. 

But is it possible than Alabama fans, who’ve watched their team win four national titles since 2009, have become a bit complacent? 

“We expect greatness every year,” said Anthony Lee, 39, who lives in Atlanta but roots for the Crimson Tide. 

And Lee disputes the notion of a home-field advantage for the Bulldogs. 

“We played so many times in the Georgia Dome this feels like a home game,” he said, noting that Alabama opened the season with a win over Florida State at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

For the record, Alabama was the home team in that game.

— Christian Boone

PLUS:  Check out the updated photo gallery. 

11:22 a.m. update: They ran out of headphones Saturday for fans attending Media Day at Philips Arena. But for giddy Bulldog supporters, it was no big deal. 

"They're going to give a bunch of scripted answers anyway," Daniel Bailey, 24, said of the players and coaches being interviewed 20 rows below.

Just being here is good enough. 

"My parents hadn't even met" in 1981, the last time Georgia won a national title, said Bailey's friend, Andrew Smith.

"We just wanted to be part of the championship experience," Smith said.

— Christian Boone

ORIGINAL STORY: Fans are crowding this weekend into the “Championship Campus,” a compact area in downtown Atlanta where days of fanfare will precede Monday night’s national title game. Today’s highlight is the open-to-the-public “media day” in Philips Arena.

Other weekend events in advance of the game will include a three-day interactive fan festival inside the Georgia World Congress Center and a concert series in Centennial Olympic Park.

All of those venues and others are within walking distance of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide will meet for the national championship. 

Check out today’s photo gallery from media day: http://www.ajc.com/sports/college/photos-uga-meets-the-press-during-cfp-media-day/jb4cxiLO2e567hE3I0y17L/

Georgia fans cheer as players arrive during Georgia Media Day at Philips Arena on Saturday, January 6, 2017, ahead of College Football Playoff Championship.(HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

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NFL releases playoff schedule

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 9:25 PM

The 2017 playoffs are officially upon us.

Shortly after Sunday’s Week 17 games the NFL released the postseason schedule.

The Tennessee Titans got a big win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Tennessee will travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs on Saturday, Jan. 6 in the first AFC Wild Card matchup.

Atlanta defeated the Carolina Panthers in a crucial NFC South showdown. As a result, the Falcons will fly west to play the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, Jan. 6.

Sunday, Jan. 7 will feature the Buffalo Bills at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Buffalo needed help from the Cincinnati Bengals and they got it. Cincinnati defeated the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17. Baltimore’s loss moved Buffalo into the six and final playoff spot while the Ravens are forced to go home. The Jaguars, losers of two-straight games, are back pedaling into the playoffs.

The Panthers and New Orleans Saints will meet for the third time this season, albeit this time the postseason. Both clubs lost to a NFC South division rival in Week 17 (Panthers lost to Atlanta and the Saints lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).  The Saints host Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 7.

2017 NFL Playoff information

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Atlanta Falcons flying into playoffs after win over Carolina Panthers

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 8:35 PM

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons have stamped their ticket into the playoffs.

Atlanta got out to an early 7-0 lead and never relinquished it against the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s NFC South showdown. The Falcons came away with a 22-10 win in Sunday’s win-and-get-in game.

Here are Tyler Dragon’s five takeaways from the Week 17 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

1. The Carolina Panthers aerial attack got off to a pitiful start. Cam Newton started the game 0-for-9 passing. He didn’t complete a pass until the second quarter and that went for negative three yards. Most people will blame Newton for the lackluster start but Carolina’s pass catchers struggled to get open against Atlanta’s secondary throughout the entire contest.

Newton finished 13-of-34 passing for 180 yards for 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, resulting in a 31.5 passer rating.

The game provided another illustration of the Panthers’ mediocre receiving corps. Carolina desperately needs to get a true No. 1 wide receiver when their season ends.

2. Give kicker Matt Bryant a game ball. Bryant was perfect kicking the football on Sunday. The 42-year old kicker went 5-for-5 kicking field goals in the second half, including a crucial 56-yard field goal that made it a two-possession game with a little under 7 minutes remaining.

Bryant’s five field goals in the second half were the most ever in his career.

“Part of being a good kicker is having mental toughness and [Matt Bryant] has got that in abundance,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told the media following the contest.

Not bad for the 16-year veteran.

3. Atlanta’s incompetence in the takeaway department was not present in Week 17. The Falcons intercepted Cam Newton three times. Defensive backs Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen and Robert Alford picked off interceptions in the 22-10 win

“We played good that was one of our better games. We came together, we played as a team and we played as a whole group,” Allen said after the win.

4. The Falcons’ entire defense deserves a shoutout.

“We played really well and that starts in practice, taking advantage of each day. Once you get to the game it gets easy,” Neal said. “We just kept fight and kept playing and that was huge for us.”

Atlanta’s three interceptions are noteworthy. Additionally, the Falcons limited Carolina to one touchdown. Newton and the Panthers had just 248 total yards on offense. Week 17 might have been Atlanta’s best defensive performance and it’s fine time for the Falcons to get their stride on defense with the playoffs officially here.

5. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones aren’t as explosive as a year ago. Nevertheless, the two are still a force to be reckoned with. Jones made history on Sunday. The Falcons wideout became just the second receiver to have at least 1,400 receiving yards for four-consecutive seasons. Jones compiled

 

 

Oakland Raiders have decided go forward without Jack Del Rio as coach

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 8:15 PM

The Oakland Raiders relieved Jack Del Rio of his coaching duties after their 30-17 Week 17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Del Rio revealed this news to the media after the game.

“[Raiders owner Mark Davis] let me know that he’s not gonna be bringing me back,” Del Rio said to the media, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “He told me he loved me and appreciated all that I did to kind of get this program goin in the right direction, but he felt the need to change.”

Del Rio did some great work in his three seasons as Raiders’ coach. He took a franchise that hadn’t finished the regular-season with a record above .500 since 2002, and led them to a 12-4 record last season.

This year did not go as well as they would’ve like, finishing with a 6-10 record on the season. However, the pieces are in place for the Raiders to get back to the consistent success they have maintained throughout most of the franchise’s history. Derek Carr is the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, and with 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack rushing the passer, they have some great pieces to build with.

The person to try and guide the Raiders to the next step could be ESPN’s Jon Gruden. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported on Saturday that the franchise could be willing to offer Gruden an ownership stake to come back to the place where he first made his name as a head coach.

From 1998-2001, Gruden led the Raiders to a 64-38 record, and an AFC Championship Game appearance during his final season.