Ron Rivera prided himself on having a self-policing unit, a hidden perk that comes with employing so many mid to late-career veterans like Jerricho Cotchery, Jared Allen, Michael Oher, Cortland Finnegan, Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen. His trust extends to the biggest coaching week of his career, where he allows his team to self-report what time they get in and out every day -- almost like the sign in sheet at a class in college.
"I don't know who came up with it, but basically, when you go up to your floor there's a cop and a couple security guards there and you tell them you're not going back out for the rest of the night." wide receiver Corey Brown said. "They don't have to check your rooms, they just take your name off the list."
He added: "I think even if we didn't have it, people would still be in at a decent hour."
To help reinforce his message, Rivera employed the team's radio analyst and 15-year NFL veteran Eugene Robinson. Robinson, as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, was infamously caught soliciting a prostitute the night before Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami. Robinson spoke to the team this week and received a standing ovation.
"It was shocking to most," Cam Newton said. "I know a lot of guys didn't expect that, but for him to have that attitude to open up his life and his story for us, we knew who he was and what he did for the Panthers, it just shows you what type of organization we have. A lot of guys wouldn't necessarily be comfortable with telling everyone their story, but he did and he told us and I think a lot of guys kind of stepped back and understood the value and the importance of staying focused in an environment like this."
It seems to have hit home.
The Panthers had an off day Tuesday, one of their last chances to explore the area before locking down to practice. For Rivera, it would have been the last tense moments to worry about player focus. But outside of a few players discussing plans to make the hour-long trip into San Francisco on Tuesday, most are content staying in the hotel. The risk, the potential to shatter the delicate system of trust that has been put in place, is too great.
"I don't want to waste it being in San Francisco, somewhere partying, acting a fool," Brown said. "I don't want to find out."