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Cam Newton briefly benched for 'dress code violation'

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The Carolina Panthers opened Sunday Night Football without Cam Newton under center.

Instead, backup Derek Anderson made a surprise start against the Seahawks, throwing an interception on the first play of the game on a pass that bounced off the fingers of fullback Mike Tolbert into the arms of Seattle linebacker Mike Morgan.

NBC's Michele Tafoya reported after the half that Newton was benched by coach Ron Rivera for a dress code violation. Last year's MVP entered the game on Carolina's second series before playing the rest of the way.

Fashion faux pas aside, the Panthers did not look good on the field in Sunday night's 40-7 beatdown dominated by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

After the game, Rivera told reporters that Newton violated the team's travel dress code, but he wouldn't expound further on what Newton specifically did.

"I'm not going to get into our dress code," Rivera said. "Completely my decision."

Rivera added Monday that he wasn't worried about public response to his decision.

"I knew it was gonna be a feeding frenzy and that's just the way it is," Rivera said. "So as far as I'm concerned, I've addressed it, he's addressed it and I'm treating everybody the same and I will continue to do that. So I'm done with it. We play the Chargers and we lost the game yesterday."

Newton confirmed reports that his benching was due to him not wearing a tie.

"I didn't follow dress code and coach told me that I wasn't going to start," Newton said. "So I stand by his decision as the position that he’s in and I follow it hand in hand."

When asked if he felt he was dressed appropriately, Newton had this to say:

"If coach doesn't feel like I was dressed appropriately, then I wasn't."

Newton added: "When you're 6-5, trying to get a shirt -- I was away from home for a week -- I didn't pack a shirt. There was a lot of ties that were given, but I can't wear a tie with this. Meaning I have a tank top on under this -- we discussed it internally. ... I thought we were on the same page; I felt as if I wore a similar outfit like this before, and nothing was done. But he has rules in place and we have to abide by them. No person is greater than the next person -- it is what it is."

Rivera maintained he wasn't shaken in his method of handling his players, which he said isn't anything new.

"I'm very comfortable with it because the truth of the matter is I have to treat everybody the same," the coach said Monday. "I really do. And that's all that was. There was no underlying message. Because I've done this before. It's unfortunate the guys I did before weren't the quarterback and I think that's why it's such a big deal."

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