Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Panthers Coach Rivera Doesn't Play Favorites

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Panthers Coach Rivera Doesn't Play Favorites

Article excerpt

A lot of NFL head coaches have a different standard for stars, subscribing to the philosophy of treating everyone equitably but not necessarily equally. Ron Rivera is not among those coaches.

So, when reigning MVP Cam Newton boarded the team flight to Seattle without a dress shirt and necktie, Rivera decided to bench him for the first series Sunday night.

The flap became an overbearing cloud hanging over Seattle's 40-7 shellacking of the Panthers after Derek Anderson's single snap resulted in an interception.

Newton didn't express disagreement with Rivera's decision after the game, explaining he realized just before the buses left to take the team to the airport that he hadn't packed a shirt and tie.

"We discussed it internally. Me and coach, we're on the same page, I feel good about it, Newton said.

Rivera didn't announce his intention to punish his passer. Even after the game he wouldn't say anything beyond acknowledging his quarterback had committed a dress code violation.

Right tackle Trai Turner said he didn't know what was up until the opening play, which ended up being a pass that deflected off Mike Tolbert's hands and into the arms of linebacker Mike Morgan. That led to a Seattle field goal.

The oddity of it all is that Newton is as fashionable as any player in the league.

This is the guy who sported Zebra-print Versace pants on Super Bowl Sunday and who modeled nearly $30,000 worth of duds for his GQ photo shoot last summer, including $495 loafers, a $530 tank top, $1,200 sneakers and a $4,995 leather jacket.

And nary a necktie.

Aside from more than 500 players wearing custom cleats as part of the league's "My Cleats, My Cause initiative, Week 13 featured an abundance of curious calls and dubious decisions.

Seattle star safety Earl Thomas broke his lower left leg when he collided with teammate Kam Chancellor as both tried to intercept a pass from Newton. …

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