Rivera’s Familiarity with Super Bowl Week to Help Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WCCB Charlotte) — Ron Rivera knows every angle of a Super Bowl week.

Rivera played on the 1985 Chicago Bears championship team, he was the defensive coordinator for the 2006 Bears who lost, coincidentally, to Peyton Manning and the Colts, and in 13 days he will lead the Panthers in this year’s big game against Denver.

“It’s not about getting there or being part of it, its about winning it,” Rivera said.

Rivera was on the losing end of the 2006 Super Bowl. His strongest recollection of that game, or maybe the most poignant memory from an otherwise dreadful Super Bowl for his Chicago Bears, was the weather.

“It was the only Super Bowl that rained.”

Rivera is hoping to wipe away any sour memories and end the Panthers historic season on a bright spot. As head coach, he has no doubt his team will embrace the moment…or at least the hoopla leading up to it.

“They are going to embrace it, you know that,” Rivera said with a smirk. “It’s going to be a matter of managing it.”

Rivera is prepared to heed advice from mentors, including the coach when he won the Super Bowl as a player, Mike Ditka. Ditka preached letting the players ‘enjoy the moment.’

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera talks with the media on January 25, 2016. (Jeff Zell)“The moment doesn’t come very often. The biggest thing is, do what you have done. Don’t change.”

“Some of my experiences in coaching, you get to certain situations like the playoffs. I Don’t want to say (people) panic, but self-doubt,” Rivera added. “I told our coordinators that we are going to do what we do. We are going to stick to what got us to where we are today.”

Rivera and the Panthers plan to treat this week as if they had a game on Sunday, ironing out the entire game-plan this week, before traveling to California on Sunday.

Another thing that won’t change is Rivera’s way of getting his team to believe they are always the underdog.

With one win away from the ultimate goal, and the Panthers currently 5.5 point favorites by odds-makers, the speech to the team this week may be a little bit different.

“The lion always eats until he’s satisfied. Then he sleeps. We can’t be satisfied.”