In Depth

NFL: Colin Kaepernick wants to join Diddy’s bid to buy the Carolina Panthers

NFL team has been put up for sale by owner Jerry Richardson

Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick and NBA basketball star Stephen Curry want to join Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ bid to buy the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise, it has emerged. 

The Panthers have been put up for sale by founder Jerry Richardson, 81, who is under investigation by the NFL over allegations of sexual harassment.

In a letter posted on the Panthers’ official website, Richardson said no sale will happen before the end of the season.   

“I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership,” said Richardson. “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.”

However, when the time does come, hip-hop musician and producer Combs may be leading the bids. The NFL currently has no African-American majority owners, so Combs says he wants to “make history” by buying the Panthers.

Yesterday Combs tweeted: “I would like to buy the @Panthers. Spread the word.” And spread the word the NFL fans did. This morning the retweet count was more than 100,000, with 134,000 likes.

Among those tens of thousands of retweets were a couple that made the headlines - those from Kaepernick and Curry.

Quarterback Kaepernick, who started the NFL players’ national anthem protest against police brutality, wrote: “I want in on the ownership group! Let’s make it happen!”

Then Golden State star Curry also declared his position, tweeting: “I want in.”

Since opting out of his San Francisco 49ers contract in March, Kaepernick has been without a team. He also recently filed a grievance against NFL team owners, whom he claims have colluded to keep him out of the league following his protest.

According to Forbes, the Charlotte-based Panthers are currently valued at $2.3bn (£1.7bn), so Combs - who is worth an estimated $820m (£612m) - would need partners for the bid. 

Richardson owns a 49% stake in the Panthers, which, according to Forbes, means that whoever bids must be able to write a cheque for “a minimum of $600m” if they want to be the controlling owner.

Forbes also reports that there are 12 potential buyers of the Panthers, including current shareholders the Belk Family, who own roughly 5% of the team, and the Levine Family, who own 10%.

Mwnwhile, the team’s local newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, says there are fears that if the Panthers are sold, the franchise could leave its home town.

The newspaper’s editorial board writes: “The NFL would prefer to keep the Panthers in Charlotte, a growing and thriving market. Smart business people don’t mess with success, and Charlotte has shown it can and will support a franchise, even when it struggles. 

“We hope that a local owner or group will come forth with a legitimate bid that makes the decision easy for Richardson and the NFL. We expect city leaders to be proactive but not panicked, to remind the NFL and prospective owners that life [and business] is good here without making entreaties that will cost Charlotte too much later.”

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