Panthers’ owner Richardson undergoes heart transplant

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 2, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) ó Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson underwent a heart transplant Sunday, according to a broadcast report.

The 72-year-old Richardson, who had been on a heart transplant list since December, underwent the surgery Sunday at Carolinas Medical Center, WBTV reported.

A medical center spokeswoman would not confirm the transplant and said Richardson’s name was not in the hospital directory, according to the station. But Charlie Dayton, the Panthers communication director, told the Charlotte Observer on Sunday night that “the process has begun.” He would not elaborate.

Calls from The Associated Press to officials with the Panthers and the hospital were not immediately returned Monday morning.

The television station, which did not reveal its sources, reported Richardson had pulled through the surgery and was doing well. The station showed footage of a black SUV speeding away from the airport, siren blaring, with “Emergency Transplant Services” on the door.

Richardson was told he needed the transplant during a hospital stay related to the installation of a pacemaker. He then was placed on a donor waiting list.

He attended the Panthers’ game against Denver in December.

A former receiver for the Baltimore Colts, Richardson caught the winning touchdown pass from Johnny Unitas in the 1959 NFL championship game. He was awarded the expansion Panthers in 1993, becoming the first former player to own an NFL team since George Halas, the longtime owner of the Chicago Bears.