Ron Rivera tries to keep talk of Panthers sale separate from football

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Ron Rivera is going to have a new boss soon. And as much as he liked his old one, he understands the seriousness of the allegations against Jerry Richardson which triggered the decision to sell.

But Ron Rivera is a football coach, which means he’s also worried about the dreaded #distraction.

Via the team’s official website, Rivera talked about Richardson’s decision to sell the team during his press conference Monday. The release announcing the intention was put out last night after players and coaches were gone.

A little surprised and taken aback a little bit,” Rivera said. “Disappointed obviously for the news. But we most certainly will go forward.”

As he did last night, Rivera recounted his own positive experiences with Richardson. Of course, those experiences don’t outweigh the allegations of sexual harassment and use of racially insensitive language to employees, but because he was nice to him, Rivera remains willing to give Richardson a fair hearing.

“I know the allegations are serious,” Rivera said. “I know the league is doing an investigation, and everybody should be heard and respected. At the end of the day, who am I to judge? We need to have all the answers before we can do any of that. I just think that as we go forward as a football team, I think it’s important to remember that we’re still here obviously to play football.”

And as a result, he’s talked to the team about the situation already, and tried to steer the conversation back to the all-important game against the Buccaneers Saturday, saying the news of the sale might make things easier since it takes away the specter of a lingering investigation.

“Very much so,” he said. “And again, not to discount the serious nature of these allegations. I just think for us, for what we do, we’re here to play football. I think it’s important we remember that. These allegations don’t change what we do. So we just have to try to focus in on getting ready for Tampa Bay.”

It seems almost comical, considering the weight of the allegations and the eventual impacts on every facet of the organization. But it’s also all Rivera can do at the moment (though reminding people how nice Richardson was to him may not be helpful).