4 legacy-defining moments of Carolina Panthers founder Jerry Richardson

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Jerry Richardson
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Jerry Richardson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Jerry Richardson and Cam Newton /

Taking a chance on Cam Newton

After a standout season at Auburn where he carried the program to a national championship and won the Heisman Trophy in 2010, Cam Newton was a cause of great debate during his pre-draft assessment process. And as it turned out, the Carolina Panthers had the No. 1 overall selection.

Many questioned whether Newton’s electrifying campaign was a one-off – whether he could take this style of play into the NFL and become a success.

Blaine Gabbert was the safer pick. A more stereotypical pocket passer that was projected to be the next great franchise prospect at the position by many analysts.

Others were involved, but once Jerry Richardson got the chance to sit down with Newton, the owner decided it was a risk worth taking. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Newton immediately emerged as a transcendent talent and one of the team’s greatest-ever players. His NFL MVP season in 2015 was nothing short of extraordinary, propelling him to the face of the league for a brief period.

Richardson could have played it safe, but he didn’t. Something that didn’t go unrecognized by Newton after Richardson’s passing was confirmed.

Newton’s influence and overall impact across the Carolinas remain strong to this day. Had it not been for Richardson, this wouldn’t be the case.