David Tepper removes a bar employee's hat. David Tepper removes a restaurant/bar employee’s hat. (WBTV.)

There’s often a notable difference between written descriptions of an event and quotes on it and video of the event. And that’s especially true when the actions in question are somewhat controversial; description of them comes with potential source bias and particular framing of what happened, while video lets observers come to their own conclusions (although there are still possible biases in terms of video angle, duration, and more). The latest case where this matters is with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, and with Charlotte CBS affiliate WBTV obtaining security camera footage of his visit to a local restaurant and bar Thursday.

The story of Tepper’s visit to Dilworth Neighborhood Grille in Charlotte first came out Thursday ahead of the first day of the NFL Draft. The restaurant had a sign out front saying “Please let the coach and GM pick this year.” That led to Tepper stopping in, and to an exchange initially described in pretty mild terms:

And, as per Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer, “Tepper was friendly when he came in, according to Dilworth Grille employees,” and the whole interaction only lasted about a minute. If it had been just for those kind of accounts, this still would have been an interesting story, but not one that gained the amount of national attention it did. And what really sparked that was WBTV sharing the security camera footage of Tepper removing an employee’s hat (per Fowler, it was a Philadelphia Eagles hat) before eventually returning it to him:

There’s no audio on the tape, so we don’t know what Tepper said when he took off the employee’s hat. This may not have been a big deal to the employee (but it also may have been, and he may have felt he couldn’t say that). But the way Tepper did this drew a whole lot of critical comment. Here’s some of that.

As Sigler notes, Tepper has been under fire for other things. Those include the incident where he threw a drink on a fan and took days to apologize, his meddling in last year’s draft in the first place (which sparked this sign), and an ill-timed ticket price hike. If his team was better and he was more popular, this might be shrugged off more easily. But that’s not the case here.

Regardless of whether people agree with the critics of Tepper here or not, though, the publication of that video added dimensions to this story. If it had just been the comments from those who observed this firsthand, it would have gained a little traction. But that video gave everyone a chance to look for themselves and come to their own conclusions. And while those conclusions can and do differ, it’s certainly valuable for the public to be able to see what actually happened and judge for themselves how Tepper behaved.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.