Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson selling team

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Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is putting the team up for sale.

"Politicizing the game is damaging and takes the focus off the greatness of the game itself and those who played it", Richardson said in the statement, via

Richardson, 81, also mentioned that "the team has become an integral part of our community". The probe was to be conducted by a Los Angeles-based law firm and overseen by Panthers' minority partner Erskine Bowles, who was White House Chief of Staff for former president Bill Clinton.

The team declined to address specifics when contacted by SI, but Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said Sunday that the team asked the National Football League to handle the investigation for "transparency reasons".

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NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed the league will retain an outside counsel to conduct the investigation.

On Wednesday, during a press conference at the conclusion of a brief set of league meetings near Dallas and before news of the claims made against Richardson, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league takes all such allegations "very seriously".

That's when Sports Illustrated published a blockbuster report on Richardson's alleged workplace misconduct - including sexual harassment, a racial slur and the owner asking some of his female employees if he could "personally shave their legs".

Panthers were awarded the NFL's 29th franchise in 1993, and Richardson's team was valued at $2.3 billion in September, according to Forbes .

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The first game the team will play following the news comes next Sunday when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My brother passed and Mr. Richardson was there and helped me get to the funeral and back. That's the only thing I can say as far as that is concerned.

The Panthers have made a series of peculiar moves in the a year ago. Team president Danny Morrison resigned in February after spending eight years taking over numerous duties of Richardson's sons, Mark and Jon, who left the organization in 2009 amid in-house fighting over how the Panthers were being run.

Then, as the Panthers were preparing for training camp, Richardson unexpectedly fired general manager Dave Gettleman, who has led the team to the Super Bowl just two years ago and replaced him with former general manager Marty Hurney.

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