Thanks for the Memories Ron Rivera…But it’s Time

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If you are a fan of the Carolina Panthers, this week has been a rollercoaster of emotions from the start. You had to deal with a bad loss at home on Sunday. Then you find out Tuesday afternoon that your head coach, Ron Rivera, was fired. Some people think that the owner, Dave Tepper, fired him too early, and he should have let Rivera finish the season. Others believe that it was the right move because it sets up more time to look for a suitable replacement. Here is my take:

Football is a merciless business, it’s nothing personal

Courtesy: Charlotte Observer

It is sad being a Panthers’ fan and seeing a coach who brought your team to a Super Bowl, and several playoff appearances get fired. Rivera is an amazing man! He is a military man, an incredible leader, and generally just an all-around awesome guy. But his team has been on a downward spiral the last couple of years, and this season has been full of embarrassments.

Has he been a perfect coach? No, he hasn’t. But he brought this team from a 2-14 season to a Super Bowl in only a couple of years. But Tepper has said that mediocrity will not be accepted or allowed, and that is what the team has been sitting in the past few years. It’s time for a change, as hard and as merciless as it may seem. Football is a business, and it is about winning.

A timeline of the last nine seasons with Rivera

CHARLOTTE, NC – JANUARY 24: Head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with the George Halas Trophy after defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 to win the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Ron Rivera inherited John Fox’s mess in 2011. The team was coming off of a failed second-round draft pick, Jimmy Clausen, and a 2-14 season. He came in and drafted Cam Newton, who the city of Charlotte and the states of North and South Carolina would fall in love with. Even though the team finished at 6-10, it was an improvement from 2-14. Plus, there was the hope of better things to come.

Fast forward to 2013, and the Panthers had an incredible year. For the first time in what felt like forever, they finished at the top of the division with a 12-4 record, losing in the Division round of the playoffs to a San Francisco 49ers team who would eventually go to the Super Bowl. 2014 almost felt like a step back as they finished 7-8 on the season but still went to the playoffs. They won their wild-card game and then lost to the Seahawks in the Divisional round.

The peak of the nine years

Courtesy: Sports Illustrated

2015 was the year Panthers fans dreamed about. Cam Newton had an incredible season winning MVP. And the Panthers dominated pretty much every single game going 15-1 on the year and making it to only their second Super Bowl in franchise history. Super Bowl 50 of all games. Unfortunately, this game was all Denver, and the Panthers lost both Super Bowls that they have been a part of. Then in 2017, the story of the season is that they could not beat the Saints. They lost to them twice during the season and the third time in the Wild Card. Rivera leaves Carolina as the winningest coach in Carolina history.

What’s next for the Panthers?

Courtesy: Carolina Panthers

Owner Dave Tepper has stated that he will immediately begin searching for coaching candidates. There are a lot of candidates available that are being targeted by teams. The name Jim Harbaugh has come up in a lot of conversations. He can move back up to the NFL and take control of a team. Jeff Fisher has popped up in the discussion, as well.

From the way it sounds from the interviews given by Tepper is that he wants a younger coach who is offensive-minded. There are plenty of young coaches who want a shot at being the guy, but with that comes high risk and high reward. It’s going to be interesting to see the direction the Panthers decide to go in the offseason.

Thank You, Ron…for everything

Courtesy: The New York Times

Reflecting this past week on what has happened in Carolina has brought back a lot of memories. I remember going to training camp as a 14-year-old kid the year after Rivera’s hire and meeting him. He had such a love and appreciation for the fans sitting out in the hot South Carolina heat watching the team practice. It’s hard seeing the team moving forward from the man that has helped take us to some of the best years in the 25 years this franchise has existed. Unfortunately, it is time for a change.

So, thanks, Ron. Thanks for putting Carolina back on the NFL map. Thanks for taking us to the second Super Bowl in franchise history. Thank you for the memories, and I hope you have great success in your future coaching endeavors because you deserve it.

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My name is Austin Morris and I am a hardcore sports lover. I have a history of writing for the National Football Post and I am a graduate of two of their scouting programs. I hope you enjoy the content that I post and that you leave a more educated fan of football then when you came.