“Football is a cruel business. We are only here because we win, and when we do not win, we are done. Therefore, you have to win. We only want winners!” (Vince Lombardi)
On Tuesday, David Tepper, proprietor of the Carolina Panthers, terminated the contract of Ron Rivera as head coach as the team’s season of promise devolved into mediocrity after losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Washington, and the threnody of Rivera’s career in Carolina was being tuned. Rivera who exuded a great deal of sangfroid at times seemed doomed for failure soon after quarterback Cam Newton had a dietary epiphany and suffered a foot ailment that he has yet to recover.
Although Tepper’s move was questioned by some in the media based upon timing, his explanation about being more transparent about his slubbering efforts in a coaching search might have some merit. Rivera’s coaching record is 79-67-1 (.541) making one Super Bowl appearance. His tenure was arduous at times, but he cannot be blamed for every defeat including the World Championship meltdown against Denver. Nevertheless, Rivera was not a monumental success regardless of the pitfalls along the way.
It is quite intriguing to see other coaches survive in other franchises without enjoying markedly more success than Rivera. For example, Jason Garrett has amassed a record of 85-68 (.556) and no Super Bowl appearances as of this writing. Also, the Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn’s record is 42-39 (.519) and one catastrophic Super Bowl defeat that will live in infamy for years in NFL lore.
In essence, Tepper should earn plaudits for attempting to be cognizant of the Panthers’ weal by attempting to change the culture before it becomes stagnant or worse. Tepper does not want the franchise that he perforce purchased for an ungodly sum become what the Detroit Lions has become since Alex Karras was drafted. He is impelled to see the selfsame successes he had in his businesses with that of the Carolina Panthers.
In the interim, Perry Fewell has been commissioned to lead the Panthers into battle on the road against the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It appears that there are plenty of tickets are available for purchase. Unfortunately, the game day experience for the Panthers and Falcons is going to be akin to a sacrosanct Sunday school session compared to the bacchanalia of the SEC Championship Game the day before.
Perhaps, this is the kind of imagery that Tepper is attempting to avoid in what looks to be the waning moments of a season where the Panthers have two home games remaining against the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints. December football is not so aesthetically pleasing when the weather is cold, you are losing, and there are a plethora of empty seats staring you in the face.
Also, Tepper knows that it is generally ill-timed to seek outlays from the public for a new retractable roof stadium when the team is underperforming. It is like asking your supervisor for a raise when you callout sick every other day. This is why it is imperative for the Panthers to right the ship sooner than later.