The Carolina Panthers benched Cam Newton during Sunday’s game, on Dec. 4, 2016. The quarterback did not start in the game against the Seattle Seahawks due to a dress code violation. The team suffered a 40-7 loss.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera says:
On the decision to not start quarterback Cam Newton: It was a travel dress code violation. The decision was to treat him like I do all the other players on the team, and he didn’t start.
On if the dress code violation was for not wearing a necktie: I‘m not going to get into what our dress code is.
On if this was solely his decision: Yes, my decision. Completely my decision. The decision was made because I treat them (players) all the same.
On if it was just one incident: Yes.
On when he made the decision to not start Newton: I made the decision to not start him after I found out [about] the infraction.
On how long he planned to bench Newton: It was going to be one series. I didn’t anticipate the series lasting one play.
On what it says about a team captain breaking the rules: I’m not getting into it. I made a decision; the decision is I treat everyone the same way.
Newton offered further explanation.
“I didn’t follow the dress code and coach told me I wasn’t going to start. I stand by his decision,” Newton confirms that the specific violation was that he was not wearing a necktie on the team flight from San Jose, California, to Seattle on Saturday.
Postgame, Newton was in the same black turtleneck under a coat that he wore on the flight, attributed the issue to “a lack of communication on my part. I have to be clearer moving forward on how certain things are done.”
Newton also explained that after sending his clothes, he did not have a dress shirt and was unable to find one in his size by the time he realized he needed it.
He was offered a number of ties to wear, “I can’t wear a tie with this,” referring to his turtleneck.
“I felt like I wore a similar outfit to this before and nothing was said,” Newton adds, “but [Rivera] has rules in place, and I have to abide by them. No person is greater than the next person.”