One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for April 23, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Yesterday the NFL released the 2015 schedule. On paper no matter what team you pull for their looks like every team is going to have their work cut out for them.
The NFL organization that I follow closely is the Carolina Panthers. The Carolina Panthers first season in existence was 1995 and I got to work beside them every day in 1995. In fact Bill Polian the GM of the Panthers in 1995 presented me with a game ball after the season was over for our cooperative attitude with that work relationship. I considered that a very classy move and I treasure the ball. Picture of 1995 game ball is below.
Some people forget that the Panthers first year in the N.F.L. they played all home games in 1995 at Clemson University in Memorial Stadium. The Carolina Panthers have always held their training camp in Spartanburg, SC at Wofford. In 1994 and 1995 work was taking place on what is today known as Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. That stadium construction project also included practice fields for the team to utilize year round. The dilemma was it would not be ready until the summer of 1996.
One of the logistical challenges that the Panthers faced in 1995 and spring of 1996 was where were they going to practice and locate all their coach’s offices. On July 19, 1994 the Carolina Panthers selected Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, as the team’s temporary practice site until completion of the team’s facilities in Charlotte. At the time of that announcement I was the Head Basketball Coach at Winthrop. The Carolina Panthers were moving their offices into the Winthrop Coliseum and locating their locker room right down the hall from my basketball team.
Winthrop was not the only university in South Carolina that had a relationship with the Panthers. As I mentioned above the Panthers hold training camp every year at Wofford College. In 1995 the Director of Athletics at Wofford was a friend of mine named Danny Morrison. When the Panthers moved to Winthrop in 1994 I was allowed to develop some relationships with both front office and coaches at the Carolina Panthers.
Today I still have a connection to the Carolina Panthers because my friend Danny Morrison is the President of the team. Danny and I first met while he was a high school coach at Williams High School in Burlington, NC. Burlington was his home town and after college he got to come home. Danny and I both graduated from college in 1975. He is a Wofford College graduate.
After one year (1976) as the assistant coach he became Williams HS Head Basketball Coach. In 1980 he moved on to Elon College (today Elon University) as an assistant basketball coach for Elon College. He soon moved over to Assistant Athletic Director at Elon in 1982. In 1985 Danny was selected as Wofford College (SC) Director of Athletics. He remained in that position until 1997. In 1997 he was elevated to Senior Vice President at Wofford.
In 2001 he was hired as Commissioner of the Southern Conference and did a marvelous job in that capacity. Danny was legendary in the SoCon for showing up at different campuses the same day watching athletic events.
In 2005 he moved on to become the Athletic Director at Texas Christian University and was there for four years. Danny helped transition TCU into become a member of a power five conference today.
A little personal side story about Danny’s family was that his dad used to be the general manager of the JC Penny store in Lumberton, NC. I heard about his dad from Jim Kirkland who ran the auto department for JC Penny when that had that. Jim left JC Penny and opened up K-Land in Lumberton, NC.
Those years as Director of Athletics at Wofford let Danny develop an amazing friendship with Jerry Richardson his friend and owner of the Carolina Panthers. That relationship led him to replace Jerry Richardson son Mark as President when he retired in 2009.
The Friend – DANNY MORRISON
The Friend of the Friend – JERRY RICHARDSON
Jerry Richardson a businessman with class who played football
Jerry Richardson grew up in Fayetteville, NC the son of a barber and a mom that worked in a department store. He was born in 1936 and played four years of high school football for a man named Bob Prevatte a Wofford College graduate. In 1954 Jerry entered college at Wofford on a $250.00 scholarship following in Coach Prevatte’s footsteps.
Jerry had excelled in high school as a receiver. Before the 1956 season began at Wofford an event occurred that would have a huge impact on Jerry’s life. A quarterback from the University of Georgia transferred to Wofford by the name of Charles Bradshaw. Richardson and Bradshaw quickly became friends both on the football field and off. Their combined prowess resulted not only in local fame and state-wide attention, but also national prominence, as they both were recipients of All-American honors from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
One interesting thing about Jerry Richardson that I just discovered was his wife was a Winthrop Graduate. Jerry Richardson married Rosalind Sallenger, a Florence, South Carolina native, and Winthrop College student. Together they would have three children Jon, Mark and Ashley.
After college Jerry Richardson got drafted and played in the NFL for two seasons. He caught a pass in the 1959 NFL Championship game from his roommate Johnny Unitas. After two solid years with Baltimore, his contract was in the amount of $9,750. However, Richardson asked for another $250, and when he and the team failed to reach an agreement, Richardson retired from football.
His college friend, Charlie Bradshaw, had only a few months earlier, signed an agreement to open the first franchised Hardee’s Hamburger restaurant in Spartanburg. The frugal Richardson still had his NFL championship bonus check for $4,744.00, and he decided to invest it with Bradshaw’s new company, and move his family back to Spartanburg. The soon-to-be-famous Spartan Foods had just been born. Once again, the Bradshaw – Richardson connection proved successful, and they opened their first Hardee’s on October 19, 1961.
From that humble beginning of one Hardee’s in 1961 if you flash forward to 1995 you will find Jerry Richardson owning the Flagstar Corporation which was the largest publicly held company based in South Carolina, with interests in over 2500 restaurants among other holdings and over 100,000 employees. He retired from Flagstar in 1995 to devote his energies fulltime to the Carolina Panthers.
I kind like to think that $250 spat Jerry Richardson had in 1960 is the reason the Carolina Panthers are in existence today. Pretty good catch Jerry Richardson turn down $250.00 so you can own a team. I think that was a smart move.