I would really like it if the Panthers didn’t get bought by a man who displays a giant set of veiny brass testicles and throws breast implants for fun.
I’m not much of a hand wringer when it comes to NFL team owners. They’re all terrible, and it would be more surprising if a team owner came along who was demonstrably not terrible. That said, I’d like to restate for the record that my preference would be not to get veiny brass testicle man who throws breast implants at people.
David Tepper is a billionaire hedge fund manager, and a minority owner of the Steelers. Recently he’s been called a “strong contender” to buy the Carolina Panthers, who are now up for sale after stalwart Jerry Richardson announced he would sell the team following sexual harassment allegations against him. Tepper is also the owner of a large pair of brass balls — and breast implants, which he likes to throw around.
Buried in the fourth page of a 2009 profile of Tepper by New York Magazine is this gem — which I just can’t stop thinking about.
“Tepper has a pair of brass testicles. Cartoonishly huge and grotesquely veiny, they are affixed to a plaque inscribed with the words THE MOST VALUABLE SET OF ALL TIME and are not at all out of place in Appaloosa’s offices, which resemble a high-end sports bar—all polished mahogany and flat-screen TVs and black-and-gold Steelers paraphernalia—or a wealthy frat house. (“We had this client, they make breast implants,” says a former employee. “He loved to keep them on the desk, he’d love to throw them around.”) Appaloosa is staffed almost entirely by men.”
Call me old fashioned, but moving from a man pressured to sell his team for sexually harassing his female employees, to a testicle displaying, breast implant throwing dudebro is not what I’d call ideal for — how shall we say, “optics.”
“The balls were a gift to Tepper from a former employee—Alan Fournier, who now runs his own fund, Pennant Capital Management—in the wake of Tepper’s big score in 2003.”
Well, so long as the balls were a gift. You can’t NOT display a gift right? It would be rude.
Oddly enough this 2017 photo gallery from Marie Claire of appropriate gifts for coworkers doesn’t include giant veiny brass testicles. Who knew? It did include this adorable llama-shaped planter, but I digress.
The point isn’t the testicles. The veiny, cartoonishly large testicles that some brass artisan was asked to fashion as an edifice to posturing machismo. The issue is how Tepper’s interest in the Panthers is being received, and how that differs from Sean Combs’ desire to purchase the team.
When Diddy posted on Instagram that he wanted to buy the Panthers it was met with near-universal claims of “it’ll never happen.” Because deep down, we know it won’t. The old boys club of NFL owners will not allow someone in who doesn’t mirror them, and despite a Diddy-owned team being perfect for the modern NFL — it’s just not going to happen. Combs is public, a superstar, a self-made multi-millionaire who built an empire through entertainment, endorsement and smart investment. He speaks his mind and won’t be bullied, and that is precisely the kind of person NFL owners don’t want in their company.
Tepper, on the other hand, is being met with “okay, yeah this could happen” — because it absolutely can. Most people won’t click to page four of a 9-year-old profile to learn about his brass balls and penchant for implant chucking, and they won’t click on page five, which explains how Tepper made a fortune by scavenging off the almost-dead corpses of companies. Or how he gave an entire company hope, only to pull it away when the numbers didn’t make sense.
“Two years ago, Tepper headed up a consortium that agreed to help auto manufacturer Delphi exit from Chapter 11 protection—only to pull out at the last minute after the credit markets seized up, stymieing the company’s ability to get financing. A bitter battle ensued. Delphi filed a lawsuit against Appaloosa, alleging, among other things, that Tepper “pushed, with the grace and diplomacy of a battering ram, to play a central role in the reorganization” of the company, only to turn tail and “manufacture an excuse” once they lost interest.”
It’s business. Some would say shrewd business, and likely claim Tepper a genius. On some level he is. You don’t get to the place he is without having the smarts to back it up. But the Carolina Panthers I know — the family run, often shambolic, but damn-it-if-they-aren’t-charming organization has made it increasingly difficult in recent years to support them with my whole heart. From media coaching players to avoid speaking about social issues, to tepid non-answers when asked to take a stand, to sexual harassment by the team’s owner. Honestly, it’s been trying to support this team in earnest, even if they’ve never been more fun to watch with Cam Newton at the helm.
I’m a simple man. I don’t ask for much. Just don’t let the guy with giant veiny brass balls on his wall buy this team. It might be too much for me to handle.