The Carolina Panthers will open the season Sept. 10 at San Francisco, not far from where head coach Ron Rivera grew up and went to school at Cal-Berkeley.
But Charlotte is Rivera’s home now, and a month after the NFL schedule was released, he’s still disappointed the Panthers will be on the road to start the season.
“I’ve been the head coach going on seven seasons now and we’ve only opened at home once,” Rivera said after Thursday’s OTA practice. “It would be nice to be able to open up (at home) on the beginning weekend for our fans, more so than anything else.”
The only time the Panthers kicked off a season at Bank of America Stadium under Rivera was in 2013, when they lost 12-7 to Seattle. They’re 2-3 on the road in Week 1 during Rivera’s tenure, including last season’s 21-20 loss at Denver in a Super Bowl rematch.
Rivera was especially ticked last year that the Panthers didn’t get a home opener so fans could fete the defending NFC champions. And while the Panthers are coming off a 6-10 season, Rivera says there’s still a different atmosphere when the first home game comes in Week 1.
“I just think we’ve got a tremendous amount of fan support in this town, and it would be nice for them to have that energy of the first week, the very first week, opening up here,” he said. “And really getting the opportunity to start fast.”
The Panthers will be home in Week 2 against Buffalo and former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.