Ex-NFL owner Jerry Richardson -- the founder of the Carolina Panthers -- has died, his former team announced Thursday.
He was 86 years old. No cause of death has been revealed.
Richardson officially became an NFL owner in 1995, when the Panthers entered the league as an expansion franchise. He went on to be the honcho of the org. until 2018, when he sold the team to billionaire David Tepper.
"Jerry Richardson's contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic," Tepper said after learning the news of his death on Thursday. "With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans a team to call their own.''
Tepper added, "He was incredibly gracious to me when I purchased the team, and for that I am thankful."
A statue of Richardson that stood in front of the Panthers' stadium for years was eventually removed in 2020 -- after the team said it feared people would try to take it down during a summer of national protests.