The Carolina Panthers will enter play this weekend at 1-11 and securely in the NFC South basement. Apparently, team owner Jerry Richardson decided it was time to reach out to his beleaguered fan base.
The Gaston Gazettereported on Tuesday that Richardson recently sent out letters to all season ticket holders, imploring them to keep the faith in what has been a hugely disappointing season.
"I know how difficult the season has been for you," Richardson wrote. "As the person ultimately responsible for putting a team on the field, I take full responsibility for our shortfalls. It is agonizing that we have not performed at the level we had planned for and expected."
Richardson lamented the unsuccessful nature of the season, especially in light of Carolina's strong finish in 2009. The Panthers didn't win their first game until Week 7 and haven't won since. He said the team will remain patient in its core of young players. He additionally addressed criticism of his silence as the Panthers' season went into a tailspin over the first three months.
"Allow me to raise another personal issue," the letter read. "Much has been made of my reluctance to address the play of the team in the media. Throughout the history of the franchise, I have rarely done in-season interviews. It's just not my style. In my opinion, comments from ownership during the season are a distraction, and I do not want my comments to interfere in any way with the performance on the field."
Perhaps tellingly, Richardson made no mention of head coach John Fox in the letter. Fox has been Carolina's coach since 2002; his contract expires at the end of the season.
Richardson touched on the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement, and closed with a message of hope to his team's fans.
"I understand that in a season like this, words can sound hollow, but, as PSL (permanent seat license) owners, you have my commitment to provide you a team that will make you proud. With three NFC championship game appearances, we have come close. I can assure you we will be aggressive in getting there again."