Panthers coach Ron Rivera will have two chances a year to stick it to a guy who effectively fired him.
But Rivera said he had no ill will towards new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, who declined to renew Rivera’s contract after three years as his defensive coordinator in Chicago.
“There was disappointment more than anything else,” Rivera said, via Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. “I would have loved to stay in Chicago. At that point it had been my home. I had been there 16 years, I started my coaching career there, I played there and we went to a Super Bowl [as a player and coach].
“But the decision was made and the discussion that coach and I had was, it’s not a personal thing. This is something he wanted to do and it’s the direction he wanted to head so I lived with it and moved on. It’s never been an issue.”
So while they might not be BFFs, Rivera sent Smith a text Thursday morning to congratulate him on his new job, and said he had received texts from Smith wishing him well after a 1-3 start, as well as after the Panthers won the NFC South title last week.
Rivera called their relationship “good and solid,” but there’s little doubt the Panthers coach is looking forward to giving Smith’s team a good solid beating or two a year.