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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Ron Rivera hits back at critics in passionate press conference after firing

Ron Rivera

Ron Rivera spoke with the media on Wednesday morning for the first time since the Carolina Panthers announced their decision to fire him, and the former head coach made it clear that he feels he did not deserve to lose his job.

Oftentimes when a coach is fired, they talk about how they were unable to get the job done and wish they could have won more games. While Rivera did say his biggest regret is not winning a Super Bowl with the Panthers, he defiantly spoke about how he inherited a 2-14 team and turned it into a contender.

“Winning is hard in the NFL and not to be taken lightly,” Rivera said. “I’m proud that I took over a 2-14 team and won back-to-back-to-back NFC South division titles. I want to reemphasize: I’m proud that I took over a 2-14 team and won back-to-back-to-back. See the emphasis? Won? Three in a row. Whether you define it by wins or losses or define it by winning the division, to me that’s three years in a row of consecutive winning.”

Rivera was speaking directly to those who have called his 76-63-1 regular season record mediocre. He also alluded to the talk that one of his division titles was the product of good fortune, as the Panthers won the NFC South in 2014 despite finishing 7-8-1.

“I get tired of hearing that we couldn’t win three years in a row or two years in a row,” Rivera added. “No, we won three years in a row, so let’s get that straight. We were the first team in the NFC South to do it, so I’m pretty doggone proud of that.”

You can clearly see that Rivera is upset about being fired, which is understandable. He seemingly took the fall for a down season in which former NFL MVP Cam Newton essentially did not play at all because of a foot injury. The odds were stacked against Rivera from the start this year, so he probably feels he’s being used as a scapegoat.

Rivera said he plans to continue coaching next year and is “kind of excited” about pursuing other opportunities. He also said he was surprised by the timing of his dismissal.

Rivera ended the press conference by holding up a shirt that read “missed opportunities.”

Panthers owner David Tepper had a reasonable explanation for why he did not wait until the end of the season to fire Rivera, but it doesn’t sound like the coach is buying it. Fortunately for him, there will likely be other NFL teams who think his performance was good enough to keep his job. That should help him land another head coaching gig fairly quickly.

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