Jerry Richardson has a message for those critics who called him cheap last year
Written by Steve Reed
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 18:04
Roger Goodell arrives for the fan forum on a golf cart driven by Panthers owner Jerry Richardson (AP photo)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Clearly Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson felt like he had something to prove this offseason to his critics.
After an offseason of hearing just how “cheap” he was an NFL owner, Richardson took advantage of his first opportunity in front of the media since his unbelievable free agent spending free to address those criticisms shortly after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell completed a Fan Forum here at Wofford College.
“Does anybody feel just a little bad about calling me cheap last year? Just a smidgen?” Richardson said with a satisfied smile.
He went on to say, “The facts are we did exactly what we said we were going to do. What really precipitated this is we haven’t had back-to-back winning seasons and what we were doing wasn’t working. So we wanted to attempt to go young and draft our players. We kept everyone of our key core players, which is remarkable to me. I would have assumed some percent of them would have gone somewhere else.”
The Panthers were among the top spenders in free agency, mostly re-signing their own marquis players like running back DeAngelo Williams, defensive end Charles Johnson and linebackers Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and James Anderson to multi-million dollar contracts.
The team also signed middle linebacker Jon Beason to a contract extension and plan to do the same with center Ryan Kalil in the near future.
The team traded a third-round pick for tight end Greg Olsen and then gave him a four-year contract, and signed free agents such as kicker Olindo Mare, defensive tackle Ron Edwards and linebacker Omar Gaither.
Richardson also signed No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton, who has quickly become one of the most popular players in team history.
"He's an outstanding young man and really wants to do well," Richardson said. "He hasn't been late and he hasn't done anything you wouldn't hope that any player would do. You want your number one draft pick to set an example and he's trying to do that."
After speaking to the media, Richardson drove his golf cart over to where Newton was working on individual drills and shook hands with him and the other quarterbacks.
Richardson is incredibly excited about the season and talked about the growing optimism surrounding this year’s team following the addition of Newton.
"We kept all of our core players and we have a new coaching staff that is enthusiastic so we can't help but to be optimistic,” Richardson said. “(But) you have to guard against trying to force meeting expectations. Sometimes they may be too high."