Even though he’s not involved in a group of NASCAR personalities considering buying the Panthers, Junior wouldn’t mind being involved.
We already know what the immediate post-NASCAR future holds for Dale Earnhardt Jr., as he’s set to join NBC as an announcer for the upcoming season — and even before the network starts airing races, since he’ll be helping out with the Super Bowl and Olympics.
But could we also see Dale Jr., NFL team owner? Maybe so, though it would only be a small share of the absolutely for sale Carolina Panthers.
ESPN reports that Earnhardt is interested in being part of a group that would purchase the Panthers, one led by Speedway Motorsports Inc. president and CEO Marcus Smith. An ESPN source says that Smith wants to be majority owner of the team and would commit to keeping it in Charlotte, which is also the center of the NASCAR universe.
Junior admitted he had talked to Smith about joining a bid if one was made.
“I did call Marcus and I said, ‘Hey, Marcus, if you guys are in the middle of it and you think it’s a good business deal, I definitely have some interest.’
“I wouldn’t have the kind of money where I would move the needle too much, but it would be something to have a lot of pride in, and a good Charlotte NFL team is good for the city of Charlotte. I wish them success because of what it does for our community, not only from a pride standpoint but [from] an economical standpoint. I wouldn’t be a big player, and it wouldn’t be an investment that would really create a big change in my life.”
One change it might make is what team Earnhardt supported on the field. Dale Jr. is known as a big time Washington Redskins supporter, often living and dying with the team’s fate on the field on social media.
It remains to be seen if the Smith group will be the one to end up buying the Panthers, but Earnhardt being part of that effort just feels right. Maybe those Nationwide commercials he once shot about the many hats he wears will end up even more apt in retirement than when he was a the track every week.