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Did Ron Rivera dis Steve Smith with NASCAR analogy?

While Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was swapping stories with Nick Saban, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera had his own meeting of the minds.

Rivera, however, didn't exactly keep it in the realm of football.

The man known as "Riverboat Ron" recently spent time with Chad Knaus, crew chief for six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, according to's David Newton.

"One of the things we're trying to figure out is, how do we sustain the success?" Rivera said. "Listening to him talk about the way they review each year and how they try to find these next-level things, that was pretty impressive."

Rivera meeting with a NASCAR winner is, as's digital content editor (and resident Panthers fanatic) David Ely put it: "The most Carolina thing ever." Charlotte, of course, is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

According to Newton, it was Knaus who reached out to Rivera to spend time with the Panthers' staff. Carolina's coach, however, took a few pointers that might help his team succeed in 2014 despite a shaved roster.

Rivera used one of those lessons to indirectly throw some shade at former receiver Steve Smith.

"This guy may jack the car up a 10th of a second faster, but he doesn't work as well together with others," Rivera said, "while this guy may be a 10th of a second slower, yet he works well with everybody. We're the same way. It's about, 'How does this guy fit in the locker room?'"

Though not named, it's hard not to read that quote as a shot at Smith, considering the Panthers reportedly dumped the veteran receiver after it was leaked that he was becoming a locker room distraction.

In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys discuss Chris Johnson's impact on the Jets, then break down the state of the AFC North.

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