In an interview with Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer, Rivera provided little insight on why Panthers owner Jerry Richardson fired Gettleman, saying he was “the wrong person to ask.” Rivera added he had no input on the decision and didn’t even know about the pending move until Monday morning. He also expressed an eagerness to move on with training camp opening in seven days.
“The decision was made, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Rivera said. “The biggest thing is Dave did a great job for us. He helped me to grow as a coach, he helped to put the final pieces of the puzzle together and he helped us get to the Super Bowl.”
Rivera also said he isn’t worried about his job being in jeopardy in the wake of Gettleman’s dismissal.
“But it’s football. You’ve got to be productive. I’ve got to get us back on track … I’m going to work hard to do that, as is our coaching staff.”
He’ll also be working with a new man in the front office. Richardson had a meeting scheduled with former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney on Tuesday, a source with knowledge of the meeting told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. If all goes well, Hurney, who hired Rivera in 2011 and drafted some of the team’s stars, is expected to be named the Panthers‘ interim GM.
Less than 18 months removed from reaching the Super Bowl on the heels of a 15-1 season, expectations are high in Carolina following last season’s 6-10 encore. Although Thomas Davis characterized it as “unfair” to link Gettleman’s contract negotiations with him and Greg Olsen as a reason for the GM’s firing, it’s clear something wasn’t meeting Richardson’s standards.
Rivera, however, didn’t have issues with Gettleman.
“No matter how tense things got, we always talked our way through it,” Rivera told Fowler. “I talked to Dave [on Monday] because I wanted to make sure he knew I appreciated everything he did for me.”
It remains to be seen if the front-office shakeup will prove to be more of a benefit than a detriment to the Panthers‘ 2017 aspirations. As Rivera noted Tuesday, “the key is we have to play to our potential.”