David Tepper, who is set to purchase the Panthers for a reported $2.275B, will be "very involved in the business side" of the team, according to sources cited by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Tepper is unlikely to "make any major changes to the organization," but he will "take over day-to-day operations" when he officially is part of the franchise ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 5/16). The Panthers are currently without a club president on the business side (THE DAILY). The MMQB's Peter King said he applauds Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson and the NFL for "taking less” in the sale, because this will "ensure them not leaving Charlotte" ("PFT," NBCSN, 5/16). ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: "The NFL seemed hellbent on moving beyond some of the things that ailed them last season, mainly the protests involving Kaepernick and the residual effects that followed." He added, "If you're trying to move past that, why would you bring in or give a majority ownership stake to an owner who has spoken out publicly against the president, who hijacked the whole narrative for himself and his constituency, and you're in the bible belt" ("First Take," ESPN, 5/16).
JUDGING THE SALE: THE MMQB's Albert Breer wrote Tepper's purchase was a "weird one," as the sale of the team "didn't exactly go according to plan." A source said, "You look at what the Nets and Rockets went for, and this is a high-profile East Coast team, and it didn't turn into an auction the way these things usually do." The source added, "Tepper's always been super disciplined, and he told the world he was going to be super disciplined on this one, and he waited them out and won." Breer noted there were NFL owners who were "not OK with the other bidders." South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro’s practices "came under scrutiny, so much so that he hired a PR firm to manage the damage." But one owner said that liquidity, structure and partners "became a bigger issue for Navarro than anything in his past" (SI.com, 5/17).
NBA CATCHING UP? FS1’s Jason Whitlock said it was "kind of shocking" when he saw the Panthers' price was close to what the sale of the Rockets and Clippers brought in, but he said he does not believe the Panthers "sold for as much money as they possibly could." He said the NFL owners "wanted David Tepper fully in their fraternity." Tepper has been an investor in the Steelers, which Whitlock said is a "path to get into the full fraternity group of NFL ownership." Whitlock: "They cut a deal that made sense for him and didn't get as much money as they could have." FS1’s Colin Cowherd: "The NFL in this country is a much bigger deal, but if you're talking about selling something and the global outreach, that's where the NBA makes up a lot of ground.” FS1’s Mark Schlereth said, “You're talking about Houston, the fourth biggest market in the United States, and we’re talking about L.A., the biggest or second biggest market in the United States." He asked of the Panthers, "We're talking about a much smaller market. If it was the Houston Texans or we were talking about the L.A. Rams? If we were to sell those two, what would those franchises be worth?” (“Speak for Yourself,” FS1, 5/16).
PASSING THE EYE TEST: In N.Y., English & Kosman note Tepper’s Appaloosa Management firm in Q1 "increased its stakes in gambling stocks" such as Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts Int'l, but his casino involvements "pose no problem" for the league. An NFL spokesperson said, "This was vetted to the satisfaction of ownership and was not an issue in 2009 when Mr. Tepper became a minority owner of the Steelers" (N.Y. POST, 5/17). In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes Tepper "may broach the subject" of his Panthers purchase on Sunday at Carnegie Mellon Univ., where he will be the "commencement speaker." Tepper displays a "puckish, sometimes prurient, humor." Some critics have already asked "whether it is a good idea to bring such sensibilities to a franchise -- and league -- grappling with #MeToo issuess ranging from harrassment to the treatment of team-employed cheerleaders." Tepper is also "unafraid to get political" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/17).
PUTTING DOWN ROOTS: In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes, "If I’m Tepper, the first assignment I give myself is to get to know the organization." Get to "know the city and region in which the Panthers operate." Get to "know the people that make Charlotte go." Sorensen: "Be visible. And meet some of the fans that devote their money and their emotion to the team" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/17). The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Kevin Siers in an editorial cartoon weighs in on Tepper's purchase of the Panthers (THE DAILY).