To no one’s surprise, there is still debate over who started Sunday’s scuffle between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
After Cam Newton scored the second touchdown of the 41-10 Carolina victory, a fight among several Panthers and Saints players broke out. Superman poses were down, gates guarding the end zone were pushed back and Carolina tight end Brandon Williams was ejected.
On Monday, Rivera backed his quarterback, who some Saints players believed started the entire incident.
Newton inadvertently ran into Saints lineman Cameron Jordan as he went to celebrate the score. Jordan slightly shoved Newton, who turned around and acted as if he were Superman taking flight – swinging his arms behind him and hopping up on one foot.
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After that, Newton turned to the crowd and did his signature Superman pose where he feigns ripping open his suit and revealing an ‘S’ on his chest. At that point, Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton shoved Newton in the back.
“No, I don’t think he did it or the intent was in the guy’s face,” Rivera said. “The guy just happened to be there. You could say that about any time a guy does a celebration. There are 11 defenders on the field. So a guy turns and does whatever they do, that’s it. The biggest thing is he didn’t use the ball, he didn’t use a prop. He just did his thing. So be it.”
Brandon Williams, who as ejected after the incident, said he expected to hear from the league about his fine by Tuesday at the latest.
Rivera said Williams shouldn’t have been ejected for being “overly aggressive” when he saw one of the Saints players – either Jordan or Lofton – being equally as aggressive with Williams. Both coach and player said Williams was trying to protect the quarterback, and Williams said he eventually was trying to protect himself and that’s when punches starting flying.
But was Newton taunting the opponent? Rivera thinks not.
“No, no,” Rivera said. “Are you kidding? Some of the things that go on there that don’t get called?”