Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera told a group of business leaders Tuesday that growing up on a military base instilled in him the importance of family and teamwork.
Rivera has tried to foster a familylike atmosphere with his players and coaches, although he admits he became more visible in the locker room after the bullying scandal that rocked the Dolphins’ organization two years ago.
After the Panthers claimed the victim in that scandal – offensive tackle Jonathan Martin – off waivers from San Francisco last week, Rivera reiterated Tuesday that the locker room is not only the players’ domain.
“I know Jonathan went through a difficult situation. We had Andrew McDonald a couple years ago (who) was there (during the Dolphins’ bullying scandal) too,” Rivera said.
“I think that’s important because one of the things we try to do and I try to do is be more available to players, be more visible in the locker room. Because as I’ve said before, the biggest thing I’ve learned in my four years is it’s not theirs, it’s not mine, it’s ours. Because we all have a vested interest in what happens down there.”
Rivera said the Panthers didn’t give a lot of thought to Martin’s situation with the Dolphins when they claimed him last week. It was an opportunity to acquire a player with 32 career starts to add to the mix at tackle.
“He’s a very smart, physical football player that’s very athletic, plays well with his hands. And is a very smart young man in terms of knowing how to play the game,” Rivera said. “I think he can be a contributor for us and we’ll see how it goes. Again, what we’re trying to do is bring in competition and have guys competing.”
Punctuality matters: Rivera broke one of his own rules – be on time –Tuesday when he showed up a few minutes late for a speaking engagement at the Employers Association on Arrowood Road in southwest Charlotte.
“I apologize. I was late,” Rivera said, drawing laughter from the dozens in attendance. “Being down in this part of Charlotte, I got lost.”
Rivera, whose father served 32 years in the Army, was the keynote speaker for a USO of North Carolina program designed to guide business leaders who might be interested in hiring military personnel. Rivera said the Panthers have several employees who were in the military, including security officer John Coleman, a retired Army sergeant who works in the reception area at Bank of America Stadium.
“It’s kind of neat to sit around and talk about what the military was like for him and what it meant for him,” Rivera said.
Ahead of schedule: Rivera said workers have made good progress rebuilding his south Charlotte home, which sustained $500,000 in damage during a Jan. 5 fire caused by the improper installation of a modular fireplace.
Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, have been living in a temporary residence the past three months.
“The house is coming along very nicely. With the good weather we’ve had most recently, it’s allowed the builders to get the roof on. And once they get the roof on, they can take care of the rest of the stuff,” Rivera said. “We’re pretty excited, optimistic about it. We do look forward to getting back to it because we really do love the neighborhood.”
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