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June 16, 2024

Panthers owner David Tepper under fire after apparent drink-throwing incident

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Jan 1, 2024

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is facing criticism after appearing to throw a drink at opposing fans during his team’s season finale loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Background: The Panthers’ struggles in 2022

The Panthers entered the 2022 season with high hopes after trading for Baker Mayfield to address instability at quarterback. However, the season quickly went off the rails en route to a league-worst 7-26 record over the past two seasons under Tepper. Carolina struggled with injuries and inconsistent QB play from Mayfield and Sam Darnold, resulting in the firing of head coach Matt Rhule. The Panthers continued to spiral under interim coach Steve Wilks, extending their losing skid to six games heading into the season finale.

Tepper himself has come under criticism from fans and pundits amid the team’s on-field struggles. His questionable hiring decisions and reluctance to be patient with team-building have raised doubts about his stewardship. The drink incident caps a trying season full of embarrassing headlines for the Panthers organization.

Video shows Tepper tossing drink toward Jaguars fans

Video surfaced on social media showing Tepper appearing to toss the contents of a drink toward fans seated below his luxury box during Carolina’s 26-0 loss at Jacksonville.

The video shows Tepper standing up in his box, cupping a drink with two hands before turning and forcefully throwing liquid and ice over the railing. Jaguars fans in the lower section can be seen pointing and reacting to getting doused.

While Tepper’s facial expression cannot clearly be made out, his decisive drink toss comes across as an impulsive act of frustration. The Panthers trailed 20-0 late in the 4th quarter when the incident occurred.

Key Details

Item Description
Date December 31, 2023
Location TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville FL
Game Result Jaguars defeat Panthers 26-0
Incident Time 4th quarter, Panthers trailing 20-0
Video Source Spectator seated below Tepper’s suite

The video quickly went viral, being shared thousands of times across social media including by high-profile sports accounts. Many pointed to Tepper’s petty outburst as rock bottom for a franchise plagued by humiliation during his ownership.

Initial response condemns Tepper’s actions

The reaction from fans, media personalities and even NFL insiders was overwhelmingly negative toward Tepper in the immediate aftermath of the video surfacing.

Jacksonville-area fan Blake Waldrop, who claims to be one of the people Tepper threw his drink on, said Tepper “just turned round and deliberately spiked his drink on us for no reason”. Waldrop indicated he plans to pursue charges against Tepper, though no police report has yet been filed.

Former NFL punter and current radio host Pat McAfee blasted the video on Twitter, writing “What an embarrassment… he STINKS!” Football podcast host Peter Schrager called Tepper “the worst owner in the sport” for his antics. The Athletic’s Joe Person published a scathing column saying the incident “managed to produce possibly the lowest moment in the most embarrassing season possible for Tepper’s franchise.”

Even Panthers legend Steve Smith Sr., known for his fiery demeanor as a player, criticized Tepper’s lack of restraint: “When fans are cheering for the opposing team in your own stadium, tempers can flare. But throwing things in rage only makes the situation worse.”

NFL issues vague statement, no discipline announced yet

The NFL responded to inquiries about Tepper’s actions with the following statement: “We are aware of the video and have been in contact with the club. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Unlike player conduct incidents where the league often launches immediate investigations, no formal review or disciplinary action has yet been announced toward Tepper.

Sports legal analyst Warren Zola suggested any sanctions from the NFL against Tepper are unlikely: “While ugly optic for the league, disciplining an owner over losing emotional control seems doubtful unless ongoing pattern exists.”

What consequences could Tepper face?

While Tepper seems to be facing minimal accountability from the league office itself, the drink-dumping incident could have indirect professional and legal repercussions:

Reputation damage: The viral fan video has cemented Tepper’s image among many as an impulsive, temperamental billionaire handling an NFL team like a vanity project. This could hurt Tepper’s standing with fellow owners and the league office itself, who prefer owners keep a low profile.

Increased scrutiny of team operations: Tepper’s blowup will renew doubts about the Panthers’ internal dysfunction persisting under his leadership. The team’s next general manager and head coach hires will be vital for Tepper to regain confidence in Carolina’s direction.

Potential legal action: Though no police charges have been filed yet, the fans involved could pursue civil lawsuits against Tepper for assault and infliction of emotional distress due to his drink-throwing outburst. Any legal process could drag out the negative attention on Tepper and the Panthers.

Fan backlash: The Panthers already rank near the bottom of the NFL in attendance, filling Bank of America stadium to less than 80% capacity on average. Carolina fans are likely to further check out on Tepper’s regime and voting with their wallets after this national embarrassment.

The ignominious tail-end to a woeful 2022 season will ratchet up the pressure for substantial changes this offseason to restore respectability in Carolina – starting at the very top with Tepper himself. How the beleaguered owner responds in the coming months after hitting rock bottom on Sunday could determine the near-future outlook for the Panthers franchise.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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