If the Panthers return get back to a Super Bowl under Ron Rivera, the Carolina coach intends to give his players more free time to enjoy themselves.
Rivera said Wednesday he regrets the midnight curfew he signed off on throughout the week leading to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif. Rivera said a group of captains and veteran leaders self-imposed the midnight deadline, and he went along with it.
But at a postseason dinner with the Panthers’ captains and their wives, Rivera said players brought up the strict curfew.
“The truth is they thought we were a little more strict than we needed to be, which was interesting,” Rivera said during the final day of the NFL annual meetings. “And as I look at it, yeah, let them relax a little bit more. Let them not feel like they have to be somewhere.”
The Broncos had no curfew the first two nights they were in California, a policy Rivera said he would likely adopt if the Panthers return to the Super Bowl.
Complicating the issue were the logistics of a Super Bowl week in the Bay Area. The Panthers stayed in San Jose, about an hour south of San Francisco, which hosted the majority of parties and Super Bowl events.
The midnight curfew and the team’s distance from San Francisco prompted running back Mike Tolbert to stage his own “Club Shiznit” in his hotel room, inviting teammates in to play cards and video games.
But if there is a next time for the Panthers, players won’t have to make up their own clubs.
“Let them be who they are,” Rivera said. “Maybe at the end of the day it wasn’t the best thing.”