Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who was the recipient of the Echo Award Against Indifference Wednesday night, ended his acceptance speech with a tearful and passionate statement while discussing the mounting cases of domestic violence in the NFL and in the world in general.
While a cloud of controversy surrounds his own team, in the wake of defensive end Greg Hardy’s domestic violence case and the NFL’s indefinite suspension of former Ravens running back Ray Rice as the league's biggest story, Richardson addressed the audience with his own emotional take:
“When it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple. To those who would suggest we’ve been too slow to act, I ask that you consider to not be too quick to judge. Over the course of our 20 years, we have worked extremely hard to build an organization with integrity and earn the trust of your community. I look forward to continuing to earn your trust and I thank you for this award.”
After the ceremony, Richardson didn't talk with reporters or to TV cameras as he was rushed out of the ceremony.
Hardy was found guilty of threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend by a North Carolina judge in July. A week later, the Panthers made it clear they will wait for the NFL to decide on any discipline for Hardy.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — who was scheduled to attend the gala for his good friend Richardson but didn't show — stated that the league will make no decisions until the case is complete.
Hardy’s jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 17, but many assume that will be pushed into 2015.