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NFL owner’s surprise visit to Charlotte bar over sign ripping his draft strategy

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In an unusual move, David Tepper, the owner of the Carolina Panthers, paid a surprise visit to a local bar and grill on Thursday after they put up a sign taking a jab at his heavy involvement in the team’s draft decisions.

The sign outside Dilworth Neighborhood Grille read bluntly: “Please Let The Coach & GM Pick This Year.” It was a direct reference to Tepper’s reported insistence last year on the Panthers selecting quarterback Bryce Young with the first overall pick, despite the team’s coaching staff preferring C.J. Stroud.

The cheeky sign caught Tepper’s eye as he was likely preparing for the first round of this year’s NFL draft. According to reports, the billionaire owner stopped in to speak with the manager and find out who was responsible for the provocative message board.

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Matt Wohlfarth, who has owned the Dilworth Neighborhood Grille since 2014 and been a Panthers season ticket holder since 1995, was not present during Tepper’s surprise appearance. But employees informed him of the unusual encounter after the fact.

“It sounded a bit more on the joking side,” Wohlfarth told the Charlotte Observer about Tepper’s visit, suggesting the team owner may have taken the sign’s criticism with a dose of good humor.

This was not the first time the local bar has used its outdoor signs to poke fun at Tepper’s ownership, however. Following the Panthers’ dismal 2-15 season in 2023, the sign displayed a message reading “Meddling owners never win. Run from Jerry Jones.”

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“He was sorta pissed off about that one,” Wohlfarth admitted, likely because the sign compared Tepper’s hands-on approach to that of the controversial Jerry Jones with the Dallas Cowboys.

Since purchasing the Panthers from former owner Jerry Richardson in 2018 for $2.3 billion, Tepper has gained a reputation as one of the most involved and outspoken owners in the NFL. Under his tenure, the team has had four different full-time head coaches but zero playoff appearances and a disappointing 31-68 overall record.

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Tepper’s involvement in personnel decisions like the 2023 draft has been a particular source of criticism. In January, the NFL fined him $300,000 after he threw a drink toward heckling fans from a luxury box during a blowout loss.

Whether the latest ribbing from Dilworth Neighborhood Grille will prompt Tepper to take a more hands-off approach this year remains to be seen. But the owner’s in-person visit suggests he may have a sense of humor about the public skepticism – or is at least keeping an eye on his critics in Charlotte’s local establishments.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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