For Panthers players and coaches, the Sports Illustrated story regarding accusations against owner Jerry Richardson came out so close to kickoff, they couldn’t know the depth of the charges when they were asked to talk about them. But while most of them signaled the appropriate measure of concern about the seriousness of the topic, they also fell back on their own relationship with their boss. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said Richardson was someone he respected, but walked a fine line with his remarks, saying “I hope things don’t alter my thinking of him.” “I don’t take these things lightly,” Newton said. “I’m just telling you my experiences, . . . He’s played a father-like role in my life.” Likewise, coach Ron Rivera recounted the ways Richardson helped him when his house burned, and the support he offered when his brother died of cancer. But because the allegations of workplace misconduct (which include former employees receiving settlements for sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur against a former scout) were printed less than an hour before they played, most players tried to not not speak on the topic at all. Several key veterans, including Thomas Davis and Julius Peppers, didn’t talk to reporters at all after the game. One Panthers staffer said Peppers wanted to talk to Richardson before he left for the night.