Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, under NFL investigation for alleged workplace misconduct, announced on the team website Sunday evening that he's selling his majority stake in the franchise.
"There has been no greater mission or purpose in my life than to have brought an NFL franchise to Charlotte," Richardson wrote. "The obstacles back then were significant, and some even questioned whether our community could or would support professional football. But I always knew that if given the chance, the Carolinas would rise to the occasion.
"And you have. The team has become an integral part of our community. The stadium is in its best condition since the day it opened. And we have played in two Super Bowls.
"Football is also an integral part of my life — and I am blessed, every day, that I made the Carolinas my home. I can never repay all of you for the kindness and generosity you have shown me, Rosalind, and my family for more than two decades. We have the best fans in football — and I truly mean that. In my opinion, we also have the best organization, and they have served us well.
"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 this 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."
Richardson, 81, brought the Panthers to Carolina in 1993, when he became the first owner since George Halas to own a club and they became the NFL's 29th franchise.
One of the game's more powerful owners, Richardson was placed under internal investigation by the Panthers, the team announced Friday, for alleged workplace misconduct.
Sunday, the NFL took over the investigation, the same day a SI report detailing Richardson's alleged sexual misconduct and at least one instance of using a racial slur that led to payouts, surfaced.
Forbes recently listed the value of the Panthers at $2.075 billion, ranked 21st among NFL franchises. Richardson and his team of investors bought the Panthers in 1993 for $206 million.