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Report: NFL Fears Jerry Richardson Scandal Is 'Tip of the Iceberg'

Kyle Newport

Although former owner Jerry Richardson recently sold the Carolina Panthers following a well publicized scandal, the NFL is reportedly bracing for the worst.

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times author Mark Leibovich recently penned a "What I Learned" column for NBC Sports' Peter King. In it, he revealed the league doesn't believe Richardson and the Panthers were an isolated incident:

"I learned the Jerry Richardson problem is not over. There is real concern that Jerry Richardson is the tip of the iceberg. With obscenely rich and powerful and aggressive people like NFL owners, there can be a commonness of not only acting in a brutish and entitled way, but also, simply, of being able to pay people off when they try to speak out. Needless to say, Richardson has no monopoly inside the membership on having engaged in outdated behavior. I think there will be other cases. The league fears there will be others."

Richardson was the subject of an NFL investigation following allegations of workplace misconduct. Sports Illustrated's L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein detailed the alleged inappropriate behavior last December, citing the use of racial slurs and sexual misconduct.

He was accused of making inappropriate comments toward women. He also allegedly gave "back rubs that lingered too long or went too low down the spine" and tried to buckle the seat belt of female passengers so he could "[brush] his hand across their breasts before putting the belt in the clasp." 

He ultimately reached settlements in the form of non-disclosure agreements to protect the team "from further liability and damaging publicity," according to the report.

The 82-year-old's behavior, per Wertheim and Bernstein, was viewed as "more of a creepy-old-man thing than a threat."

Richardson was fined $2.75 million as a result of the league's investigation. That money was expected to go toward supporting organizations dedicated to addressing race and gender-based issues.

It's not clear how widespread the issue Leibovich touches on may be.

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