Sports has an owner problem

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There’s an owner problem across all professional sports. If you think the behavior of Carolina Panthers’ owner David Tepper was abhorrent, and it was, and needs to be eradicated from the game, and it should, wait 15 minutes until the next entitled billionaire gets fussy.

Which under .500 team makes the NFL Playoffs?

In case you missed it, which cellphone cameras never do, Tepper was caught tossing the backwash of his cocktail out of his suite and onto a crowd of peasants dressed as Jaguar fans during the Panthers’ shutout loss in Jacksonville on Sunday.

It continued the NFL’s trend of giant baby owners acting like destructive teenagers. Michael Bidwell, Daniel Snyder, Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, Stan Kroenke, Woody Johnson, and so on and so forth are the same ass clowns; they just go by different names. For Tepper, whose only splash since joining the world’s most expensive boys club has been an inordinate amount of money on failed coaches, this solidifies what fans assumed about him.

He’s another billionaire, pissed about not being more famous for being a billionaire, going through a midlife crisis and opted for an NFL franchise instead of a Lamborghini. I’m sorry, Dave, but there’s no loophole to exploit, and you can’t simply acquire the opposition. There’s nothing more telling about hedge-fund managers than watching them try to fix a sports franchise.

Or in Tepper’s case, aggressively run it into the dirt.

The Panthers, who traded up to first to take Bryce Young in the 2023 NFL Draft, are the worst team in football and are shipping the No. 1 overall selection to Chicago after a year that saw them hire and fire head coach Frank Reich in an 11-month span. Cultivating Young was the key to drafting him. If the plan was for an undersized QB to lift a directionless organization, he was set up to fail.

Tepper strikes me as the real-life version of Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder, only substantially less funny and twice the a-hole. Put the hostage takers on speaker phone and we’ll see how tough they are after a Tepper Tantrum (™).

Neither the league nor Carolina has released a statement on the incident, but the behavior sends a clear message to any potential future employees: Hope you like being treated like garbage, and stay clear if Dave is in a mood and has a beverage in hand.

Other than a possible out-of-court settlement, there will be no justice for those Jaguar fans. The people of Charlotte shouldn’t hold their breath either. Tepper threw a small spittle of drink. The league isn’t going to take away his franchise for it.

While I would love to keep piling on the Tepster, for the sake of variety, let’s talk about owners in general. There’s nothing anyone can do to alleviate this problem. Roger Goodell works for Tepper and you better believe the two are working together to figure out an amenable punishment that will neither be amenable or a punishment.

In the world of sports fandom, forcing a dickhead, billionaire owner to sell their most valuable asset for a substantial profit somehow counts as a win. While I don’t think David Tepper would get what he shelled out for Carolina — $2.4 billion, in cash — should it come to that, there’s no shortage of wealthy demi-gods willing to overpay for sports teams, so who knows?

Think about the worst boss you’ve ever worked for. Now multiply that by a billion. These are the kinds of people increasingly running the institutions we love. As with Donald Sterling before him, what Tepper got caught doing is likely low on his list of lifetime offenses. You don’t casually toss a drink like that if it’s a one-off.

There’s only the faintest of silver linings. David Tepper is now famous for more than just being a rich guy. He’s now the answer to the question: Hey, who was that owner who threw a drink at a bunch of fans?

David Tepper?

Yeah, that’s him. What a dumbass.

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