Sixty years after Jerry Richardson tried out in 1955 for the Wofford College Terriers football team, the former wide receiver’s on-field school records for the most receiving yards in a game and most touchdowns of all-time remain intact.
Inducted into the S.C. Football Hall of Fame in April 2015, Richardson’s off-the-field performances may go unsurpassed, too.
Earlier this year after nine fellow South Carolinians were gunned down at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church during a bible study, Richardson donated $100,000 to the nine victims’ families and $10,000 to the church.
Such charity became possible after Richardson was drafted into the National Football League in the 13th round by then-defending champion Baltimore Colts in 1959, going on to be named Colts Rookie of the Year. Richardson also caught a touchdown pass in the NFL championship game that year from famed quarterback Johnny Unitas – and the Colts won again.
Retiring after two years in the league, Richardson used his championship bonus money to co-purchase his first Hardee’s restaurant in Spartanburg. The Spring Hope, N.C. native parlayed that into Spartan Foods, before he later became CEO of Flagstar, one of the largest food services companies in the United States.
In 1993, Richardson was awarded the Carolina Panthers franchise in Charlotte, becoming the first former player to own an NFL team since George Halas owned the Chicago Bears outright in the 1930s. Richardson’s Carolina Panthers are the only remaining undefeated team in the 2015 NFL season, as of Dec. 1.