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Jerry Richardson skipping this week’s owners meeting

Divisional Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 12: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks with Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium on January 12, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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NFL owners are meeting in New York this week in hopes of coming up with a way to extricate themselves from a public relations mess.

At least 30 of them are.

PFT has learned that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson will not be in attendance this week.

That isn’t necessarily surprising considering he was the next-to-last owner to issue any degree of statement following President Donald Trump’s declaration that any “son of a bitch” who protested during the national anthem should be fired. That weekend, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers stayed in the locker room for the anthem, the only Panthers player to recognize the moment in any way.

As much as anything, it appears that the 81-year-old Richardson doesn’t want to be bothered with what seems like bowing to Trump’s wishes that all players be made to stand. Other carrots are being dangled to get players to comply, but most feel like some degree of going along to get along is inevitable, especially after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross instructed their players to participate.

Abstaining might not be viewed as the most virtuous move to those who prefer another course of action, but it at least leaves you with clean hands. And when it’s time to stack the money that comes in from both sides of the political aisle, clean hands make the counting go faster.

“Mr. Richardson is healthy and fully focused on the business of the Carolina Panthers,” team director of communications Steven Drummond said in response to a question from PFT. “He has complete confidence in his executive team to represent the club at the meeting.”

The meeting is limited to one participant per team, or two if members of a family own a team. The Panthers lack a team president since they never replaced Danny Morrison in February, and their most likely representative at the meeting would be Tina Becker, whose title is executive director, owner’s office. Becker has been a constant presence alongside Richardson for all his recent decisions (she was the one who called former General Manager Marty Hurney about coming back on board as interim G.M.) and has gained influence in their building in recent years.

Richardson has taken a step back from any and all league matters in recent years. After spending two decades trying to solve the league’s Los Angeles problem (and taking a loss on that one), he no longer participates in any league committees. He used to be among the most involved owners in that regard, and was once a member of the compensation committee, which sets commissioner Roger Goodell’s salary.