Peyton Manning asked to join Carolina Panthers ownership bid group: Report

One of the contenders to purchase the NFL’s Carolina Panthers has contacted two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Peyton Manning to gauge his interest in a partial ownership stake, according to a report Thursday.

Manning, who retired from the NFL after the 2016 season, is said to be considering the offer from Ben Navarro, the 54-year-old billionaire chairman of Sherman Financial Group, the Charlotte Observer reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

The league’s five-time Most Valuable Player would be made a limited ownership partner if he accepts the offer and the Navarro-led group’s bid to purchase the Panthers is successful.

Manning and Navarro did not respond to the Observer’s request for comment.

The Panthers went on the market in January after Jerry Richardson, the team’s founder and current owner, agreed to sell the franchise as he faced allegations of workplace misconduct. The franchise is expected to fetch a sale price that could double the previous NFL record currently held by the Buffalo Bills, which sold for $1.4 billion in 2014.

Manning, 42, retired as the highest-earning player in NFL history, with more than $248 million in earnings from contracts alone. The former Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts quarterback is also considered one of the most marketable athletes in the country, with more than $150 million in career income from deals with companies such as Papa John’s Pizza and Nationwide insurance.

Manning has yet to pursue a major venture since his retirement from pro football. The future Hall of Famer is regularly rumored to have aspirations in politics or broadcast media.

Carolina ranks 21st among the NFL’s 32 franchises, with a $2.3 billion valuation, according to the most recent calculations from Forbes.