NFL legend Peyton Manning is a wanted man. The five-time MVP apparently turned down $10 million per year to join the Monday Night Football crew, and now we might know why: Manning could have his sights set on becoming an NFL owner instead.

Carolina Panthers
Could Peyton Manning become part owner of the Carolina Panthers? (Source: npr.org)

According to a report in the Charlotte Observer, one of the groups bidding on the Carolina Panthers has reached out to Manning to gauge his interest in joining them.

Manning would bring star power to a bid that’s already believed to be the leader in the clubhouse with their current offer of $2.6 billion.

Calling an Audible

The development is something of a surprise, considering the kind of money that networks were willing to throw at the future Hall of Famer. Both ESPN and Fox were said to be offering him a seven-figure salary to join them. The Browns apparently even offered from a front-office role.

Of course, Manning is smart enough to know that being an NFL franchise owner is a much more lucrative racket than being a GM or a TV personality. After all, he’s made more money than any other player in the history of football — both on and off the field — according to Forbes.

Now he’ll have to decide if he wants to put some of that $400 million in career earnings towards buying a team.

The group he would be joining is fronted by South Carolina billionaire Ben Navarro, who leads one of four groups believed to be vying for the Panthers. If their $2.6 billion bid is a winner, it would be the highest figure a North American Sports team has ever sold for.

Capping Rest of Field

The Panthers were forced to put up the “For Sale” sign after allegations of sexual and racial misconduct against owner Jerry Richardson came to light in late 2017.

Since then, other celebrities and athletes have been linked to a possible bid for the team. Sean “P. Diddy” Combs made it clear on social media late last year that he wanted to be the buyer, although with a net worth of $820 million, he’d have to bring a lot more cash to the table. Bovada was offering odds of +300 that P.Diddy would become the next owner of the team, but that bet no longer appears on their site.

Same goes for Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, who also expressed interest in buying the Panthers. Bovada was offering +700 odds on that happening, but they’re no longer offering any on who will own the team in 2018, including Manning.

Still, the group that Manning is looking at joining has to be considered the heavy favorite. Not just because they’re offering the most money, but also because they have the backing of the owner’s son, Mark Richardson.

I personally know Ben and I know what he stands for, Richardson said. I know where his heart and his head is, and what his commitments are. And I cant imagine a better person being the next owner than him.

It’s expected that owners will vote on the sale of the Panthers during league meetings on May 21.

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