When the Carolina Panthers achieved victory in Sunday’s NFC Championship game over the Arizona Cardinals they punched their ticket to SuperBowl 50, this will be head coach Ron Rivera’s first trip to the big game as a head coach, but he has SuperBowl experience.
Rivera has been in the game twice before, once as a defensive coordinator for the 2006 Chicago Bearsand once, more notably, as a linebacker for the 1985 Chicago Bears who would advance to become SuperBowl XX champions.
As Rivera prepared to take his team, one full of youth, and even veteran’s who don’t have much championship experience, to the NFL’s championship game he intends to tell his players some of the advice Mike Ditka, head coach of the 1985 Bears, gave to his players before the big game: Enjoy the moment.
“The moment doesn’t come very often. It’s hard. It’s hard to get to where we are right now.”
What does that mean exactly? Well it almost certainly means that this fun loving Panthers team won’t stop having fun just because the stage is bigger. The dabs, the celebrations, the swagger, all should be just as present in the buildup to the big game as it has been through the rest of the season to this point.
The Panthers attitudes and mannerisms on the field and as a team have become something the team has become known for, not unlike the 1985 Bears with their SuperBowl shuffle. Cam Newton’s dabbing celebrations have become a pop culture icon, prevalent across the country. The Panthers just seem to be a team that the country just can’t seem to get enough of.
“They’re going to embrace it,” Rivera said. “It’s really a matter of managing it more than anything else. They’ve earned it. They deserve it. But the thing we’ve got to remember is what we’re playing for, and that’s to win it.
“It’s not about getting there. It’s not about being a part of it. It’s about winning it. And that will be our main focus.”
Rivera is also taking another piece of advice from his playing days, and that is telling his players to not change what they’ve already been doing.
The Panthers have gotten this far being themselves on the field, including the way they play. Rivera wants to make sure that his players don’t get into their own heads, thinking they aren’t doing enough.
The advice certainly worked out in favor of the 85 Bears, we’ll have to wait 2 weeks to see if it still holds true 30 years later.