Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday he knew his decision to not start quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks would cause a stir.
“Absolutely, I knew it would be the big (deal) it’s become,” Rivera said. “But I’ve addressed it, (Newton’s) addressed it and I’m done with it.”
Rivera benched Newton for the first series against the Seahawks for not wearing a necktie on the team’s flight to Seattle on Saturday, a team dress code violation.
Newton only missed one play after backup quarterback Derek Anderson threw an interception when the ball bounced off fullback Mike Tolbert’s hands on the first play from scrimmage. The Seahawks took advantage of the turnover by kicking a field goal.
After the game, Newton took blame and said there was a “lack of communication” about the issue.
“If coach didn’t feel like I was dressed appropriately, then I wasn’t,” Newton said.
Rivera’s decision has come under national focus, with lots of attention coming from television and radio talk shows.
“I’m very comfortable with the decision,” said Rivera, who wouldn’t say if this was the first dress code offense for Newton. “I have to treat everybody the same. This time the guy was the quarterback, which made it the big deal that it (became).
“But there’s no underlying message. I’ve had to address these kinds of issues before. It’s probably not the last time.”
Rivera said he keeps the five qualities Panthers owner Jerry Richardson espouses for the franchise – hard work, harmony, teamwork, listening and respect – in mind when he deals with players.
“It’s not just about football,” Rivera said. “That’s the message I give players. It’s about everyday life, learning and moving on from that.”
Rivera also said he understands that players want to be themselves. There’s obvious irony in the situation with Newton, who is known for his sartorial flair.
“We want you to be who you are,” Rivera said. “But try to keep it within the framework. Those sets of rules hold true in society, too.”