CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The stunning news of the rare opportunity to purchase an NFL team has quickly garnered the attention of sports figures, business investors and politicians alike.
Amid reports of sexual and racial remarks made by Carolina Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson in the workplace, he has unexpectedly announced that he is selling the NFL franchise after this season ends.
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It was a bombshell that rocked the Carolinas, and generated shockwaves inside and out of the organization. The team Monday promoted Tina Becker as COO and gave her full control of the day-to-day operations.
Becker said in a release that ”these have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers.” She added that her immediate focus will be on corporate side of the organization, ”while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days.”
NEW YORK (AP) – John Skipper, president of the sprawling ESPN sports network, said he is resigning to treat a substance abuse problem.
Skipper’s sudden announcement will force the Walt Disney Co.-owned network to search for new leadership at a time of retrenchment, with the company losing subscribers due to cord-cutters and working to boost its digital output to follow the migration of young sports fans to their smartphones.
The 61-year-old executive, who has worked at ESPN since 1997 and has led the company since 2012, said he’s struggled for many years with substance addiction but gave no details of his specific problem. He said he had concluded that now is the time to deal with it.
”I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” he said. ”As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.”
The sports network said Skipper’s predecessor, George Bodenheimer, has agreed to serve as acting head of the company for the next 90 days.
Disney Co. chief executive Robert Iger said he wishes Skipper well during a challenging time. ”I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family,” Iger said.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Although Kobe Bryant has been asked many times, he still isn’t sure who would win a mystical game of one-on-one between the young Kobe in his No. 8 Lakers jersey and his older self, who wore No. 24.
The Lakers couldn’t choose, either. So they honored both eras of Kobe’s incredible career.
In an NBA first, the Lakers on Monday night retired both jersey numbers worn by Bryant, the leading scorer in franchise history.
Bryant attended the Lakers’ game against the Golden State Warriors for a halftime ceremony at Staples Center, which was packed with fans eager to bear witness once again to the beloved superstar scorer. Dozens of Bryant’s former teammates showed up, including Shaquille O’Neal and Derek Fisher, along with the Lakers’ usual cavalcade of celebrity fans.
DALLAS (AP) – The Chicago Cubs are making a pitch for Yu Darvish.
The free agent right-hander says he had a ”very good meeting” with Cubs officials. Darvish tweeted a statement in Japanese confirming the get-together amid reports that Chicago executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in Dallas to speak with him.
Darvish is one of the top starting pitchers available this offseason, and the Cubs have been busy filling holes on their staff. The NL Central champions already have signed free agent starter Tyler Chatwood and relievers Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek.
Darvish was 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA last season for the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers. The four-time All-Star pitched well in a pair of playoff starts but was hit hard by Houston in the World Series, losing both his outings as the Dodgers were beaten in seven games.
Darvish also used the meeting to sharpen his English. The 31-year-old says he did not bring a translator because ”I wanted to put myself in a more challenging stage regarding my English.”
The 3 1/2-hour sit-down left Darvish ”very tired,” but he says he ”will work hard again tomorrow speaking English.”