It speaks to their fondness for Ron Rivera, that even though they fired him with a month left in the season, the Panthers are letting him talk.
He’s having a press conference this morning to say most of his goodbyes, but talked to Max Henson of the team’s official website as he packed up his office the day he lost his job.
“We did a lot,” Rivera said of his nine years. “The people. We brought in good men, good coaches. We did things the right way. How fortunate I am, . . .
Rivera went 76-63-1 with the Panthers, winning a pair of coach of the year awards and taking them to a Super Bowl with a 15-1 record in 2015.
People bang on him for never having back-to-back winning seasons, but they won a division title with a 7-8-1 record in 2014 after going 12-4 in 2013.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, coming from where we started, where we came from, you know?” Rivera said. “That’s the biggest gratification to me. We started way down and worked our way up to being respectable. Unfortunately, we couldn’t maintain it. . . .
“I do want to get one thing clear. Three straight division titles — that means winning doesn’t it? We were the first ones to do that.”
Rivera’s work there was ultimately incomplete, but good enough that he should be able to find a job if he wants one. And having a month’s worth of head start on the market could help him find one.