NBC executives and NFL fans might be fired up about the season kicking off with a Super Bowl rematch, but Panthers coach Ron Rivera isn’t thrilled about it.
Rivera, a two-time NFL Coach of the Year, said the Thursday night matchup cut into the Panthers’ preparation time and created a “mad scramble” as the coaches and front office set the 53-man roster and practice squad.
Plus, Rivera thinks the Panthers deserved the opportunity to host a Week 1 game and celebrate their NFC crown.
“Being defending NFC champs, it’d have been nice to open up the regular season at home. But it didn’t work that way,” Rivera said Sunday. “I don’t set the schedule. We just go out and play the game. So we’re going to play the game to the best of our ability and hopefully do things the right way.”
The Panthers-Broncos opener, which will be televised by NBC, is just the second time the previous season’s Super Bowl teams have met in Week 1. The only other time it happened was 1970 when Kansas City and Minnesota faced off during the opening weekend.
Rivera said it has meant for a hectic week.
The Panthers -- like every team -- played their final exhibition Thursday. Rosters had to be finalized by Saturday afternoon, but the Panthers couldn’t set their practice squad until Sunday afternoon when players cleared waivers.
“If I had my druthers I’d have liked to start the season differently, but I don’t,” Rivera said.
“It’s Thursday and we only have a week, whereas all the other teams are going to have 10 or 11 days, which would be kind of neat to have as you prepare and get ready.”