A billionaire bidder in the mix to buy the Carolina Panthers has reached out to Peyton Manning to join his ownership group, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Ben Navarro, the Charleston-based CEO of Sherman Financial Group, is the leading bidder for the team with an offer of $2.6 billion, the New York Times reports.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Manning, a five-time NFL MVP and two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, is considering Navarro’s offer to become a limited partner.
Peyton Manning in high demand
Manning, 42, has reportedly turned down multiple offers to be involved in the NFL since he retired after the 2015 season. Sporting New reports that ESPN and Fox were each willing to pay Manning $10 million annually to work in their broadcast booths.
CBS Sports reported in November that Browns owner Jimmy Haslem recruited Manning for a front office role in Cleveland.
Panthers ownership bidding down to a few serious groups
The Panthers are available for purchase in the wake of owner Jerry Richardson’s alleged sexual and racial misconduct while on the job. Richardson stepped away from his day-to-day operations duties and announced his plans to sell the team in December.
Since then, multiple groups have surfaced with an interest in purchasing the team, including reported early interest from rapper Diddy and NBA star Stephen Curry.
While Curry and Diddy are reportedly no longer in the mix, there are three known active bidders remaining with serious interest in the Panthers, according to the Observer. Pittsburgh Steelers part-owner David Tepper and Brooklyn-born mining and metals billionaire Alan Kestenbaum are also considered to be serious bidders.
Peyton Manning has money to join Panthers ownership bid
According to Forbes, Manning retired with $249 million in NFL earnings in addition to approximately $150 million in endorsement money for his multiple roles promoting Papa John’s, Nationwide and Buick among others. He presumably has the funds to become a minority partner in $2.6 billion-plus investment. How interested he truly is has not been reported.
Former Panthers president Mark Richardson, Jerry Richardson’s son, has endorsed the Navarro bid as his favorite and said he would consider taking on a role with the team if Navarro wins.
“I’m sure there are multiple people that could be the right next owner,” Richardson told the Observer. “I personally know Ben and I know what he stands for. I know where his heart and his head is, and what his commitments are. And I can’t imagine a better person being the next owner than him.”
Adding Manning to the mix would almost certainly be a plus for Navarro’s bid effort.
NFL owners will hold spring meetings from May 21-23 and could approve the sale of the Panthers then.
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