Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said after Sunday night’s loss in Seattle that he was benched for the first series because he didn’t wear a tie while traveling, which coach Ron Rivera requires of every player.
“It came down to a dress code matter,” Newton said. “I didn’t follow dress code and coach told me I wasn’t going to start. I stand by his decision. His position he’s in, I follow it.”
The Panthers played at Oakland last week and did not travel home, choosing instead to practice on the West Coast for the week before the game at Seattle. Newton said he ordinarily has proper attire for traveling, but he sent his traveling clothes off when the team shipped its gear from Oakland to Seattle and found himself without anything to wear that would conform to Rivera’s dress code.
“We’ve been in California for a week and we shipped our clothes off, so that was the big no-no. But we didn’t lose this game because I didn’t have a tie,” Newton said.
Does it make sense to bench the starting quarterback because he didn’t have his clothes due to a travel mishap? Newton said he understood Rivera’s position, although his explanation of it was hard to follow.
“If coach didn’t feel like I was dressed appropriately then I wasn’t,” Newton said. “When you’re 6-foot-5, trying to get a shirt, I was away from home for a week, I didn’t pack a shirt. There were a lot of ties I was given but I can’t wear a tie with this. Meaning, I have a tank top on – we discussed it internally, me and coach, we got on the same page. I felt as if I wore a similar outfit like this before and nothing was done but he said he has rules in place and we have to abide by them. No person is better than the next person and it is what it is.”
What it is, is one of the most bizarre coaching decisions in the history of the NFL. The league’s reigning Most Valuable Player was benched over his clothing.