CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Jake Delhomme was down.
It was 2009, and the Panthers had just lost to Arizona in a Divisional playoff game. Back in his home state of Louisiana, Delhomme was sulking over the loss. But his day soon changed with a surprise phone call from then-Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
“He said, ‘Hey, it’s me.’ His voice is easily recognizable. I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ He said, ‘Is it sunny at your house?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, it is,” Delhomme remembered. “(He said) ‘Well, it’s sunny at my house also. Get over it. The sun came up. Have a good day.’ And that was Mr. Richardson.”
The former Panthers leader died Wednesday at 86. Even though Richardson had been experiencing health problems over recent years, Delhomme was hit hard by the news.
But he wasn’t the only one, and he wasn’t the only one who was that side of his old boss.
Former Panther broadcaster Mick Mixon shared some special memories of the football player-turned-NFL owner.
“I owe him a debt that I’ll never be able to pay,” Mixon said.
Hired in 2005, Mixon remains grateful to Richardson for giving him his big break with the franchise and keeping him employed. He recalled several times that Richardson would stop by, not to criticize his work but to say hello.
“He never one time called me into the principal’s office,” the former Panthers broadcaster said. “He put faith and trust in us to do our job and then gave us the resources that we needed to do it.”
Though Richardson left the Panthers in less-than-ideal circumstances in 2018, both men kept in touch with him. And while he was no longer their boss, he remained an important figure in their lives.
“One of the last things I received, gosh, it might have been two years ago. It was a handwritten note,” said Delhomme. “You could tell it was his handwriting because it was very distinct, but you could tell some health issues might have taken over.”
Gone but not forgotten. It was the case five years ago when Richardson sold the team, and it remains that way now more than ever.