Carolina Panthers quarterback and reigning league MVP Cam Newton was benched for the start of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks for disciplinary reasons, a team source confirmed.
It was the first time in Newton’s six-year career he didn’t start a game for a reason other than an injury.
Rivera’s plan presumably was to bench Newton for the first series.
When Rivera has benched starters for breaking team rules in the past – defensive ends Kony Ealy and Greg Hardy, for instance – they were held out for all or part of a series.
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Reached at halftime, Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman declined to comment.
On the NBC broadcast, Al Michaels reported that the benching was for a minor violation of team rules.
Michelle Tafoya, just after halftime, reported that Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton’s suspension was for a dress code violation.
Derek Anderson started in place of Newton. On the first play of the game, Anderson was intercepted by linebacker Mike Morgan on a pass that was bounced off the hands of fullback Mike Tolbert.
The Seahawks took over at the Panthers’ 8 and kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Newton was back in the game for the Panthers’ next offensive series.
The Panthers spent the week after last week’s loss at Oakland in northern California.