The Carolina Panthers finished the regular season with a NFL best 15-1 record and are playing for the NFC Championship Sunday in Charlotte.
Rivera, the man Panther fans call “Riverboat Ron” could have been coaching the Dallas Cowboys.
Let that sink in.....Jerry Jones had a chance to hire a guy who has won the NFC South division title three straight years , won NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and earlier this month was voted the The Sporting News Coach of the Year by 23 of his 31 NFL fellow head coaches.
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Jones decided Wade Phillips was the better man for his head coaching job in 2007. Rivera was the Bears defensive coordinator and coming off a loss in the Super Bowl to the Colts when he came to Valley Ranch for the interview to replace the retiring Bill Parcells.
One reason Jones decided not to hire him was his desire to keep the defense status quo. He didn’t want to change the Cowboys defense from a 3-4 based team to a 4-3, which Rivera was running in Chicago. Today, the Cowboys run a 4-3 defensive scheme.
Wade Phillips is long gone from Valley Ranch and back to being a very good defensive coordinator.
NBC Sports World columnist Joe Posnanski recently wrote an impressive column about Rivera and how he conducts himself with his players. The Panthers head coach sat in on a meeting with players, and after an assistant jumped on guys who didn’t take a written test seriously, Rivera stepped up with a message to his guys in the room:
“Yeah, I’ve got something to say,” Rivera said, and then he looked at the players. “Let me tell you guys something. Last September, when we started, I showed you a picture of my house after the fire. You remember that? Let’s me tell you, a house fire, it’s traumatic. It impacts you. It changes you.
“You know what happens after a house fire? They bring in lawyers. They bring in the fire investigators. They bring in the police. And they all start questioning you. They ask about your personal finances. They ask if anybody is out to get you. They ask if you are out to get anybody. It’s personal. They break you down.
“Then we go inside the house. And I’m looking at the fireplace. I have a family nickname. My kids call me Mr. Safety. My whole life — and I get this from my father — before I go to bed, I check the house. That’s what I did before I went to bed that night. And, still, we had a house fire. So I’m looking at the fireplace, and a detective comes up to me and says, ‘I know what you’re thinking. And you need to stop thinking that. You could not have prevented this.’
“And then, do you know what he said to me? He looked around at my house, at all the damage. And he looked at me and said, ‘This happened because somebody did not do their job.”
Let it sink in again, Ron Rivera could have been the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.