At a certain point during yesterday’s press conference announcing Greg Hardy’s banishment with pay following his domestic violence case, Panthers P.R. director Charlie Dayton tried to step in to offer coach Ron Rivera a lifeline.
But Rivera said he wasn’t finished talking, and showed the kind of leadership and accountability as impressive as the coach of the year honors he won last year.
As he closed a round of questions about sending his highest-paid player away with pay, Rivera said he felt a responsibility to make sure the decision was made properly.
“I made a decision [deactivating Hardy last week] that I felt was best for everybody,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “There are a lot of distractions out there, and a lot of people being blamed for a lot of things they have nothing to do with. You know, there’s two ladies that work in this building and they answer the phone. And people call, and they get after them about decisions I make. They don’t deserve to have that. They’re people. They’re women. They’re mothers. They’re sisters. They’re grandmothers. And people call and want to complain.
“So I struggle with it. That makes it very hard on me. So when I have to make decisions, I make decisions that are in the best interests of this organization and don’t ever forget that.”
Rivera was clearly emotional during the press conference, and he should be, given the gravity of the charges.
He acknowledged several times that “the climate is changing,” and their initial willingness to play him against Tampa Bay in the opener was something they simply couldn’t continue after the video of Ray Rice punching his wife in the face emerged and the national conversation changed.
“This is not a normal set of circumstances or situations,” Rivera said. “When you get into these types of situations, you try to handle it them the best you can. As I said on Sunday after the game, the biggest thing we have to understand is we’ve got to get this right. We really do.
“In all honesty, we’re worried about the wrong types of things. We’re trying to figure out who we need to blame. We don’t need to blame people, we need to find answers and corrections and make things right for people, and this is what this really should be about. I’ve been up and talked about this on and on and on, and I really just hope people understand we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances that we have and we’re trying to get this right. And at the end of the day, we have to come up with solutions to make that this does not happen again.”
There is a round of finger-pointing that needs to happen, in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But if the league is going to take its domestic violence problem seriously, there needs to be more than words, there needs to be action.
And that action shouldn’t be left to the coaches to enact.