Rivera: Newton will be expressive when happy or sad

After taking some time to digest what happened at the Super Bowl, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is still defending the actions of quarterback Cam Newton at his postgame news conference.

Newton, if you somehow forgot, wasn't very forthcoming after the 24-10 loss to the Broncos in Santa Clara, California. Many people had opinions on it.

"These are millennials, these are young men and women athletes that are being brought up in a different way and we need to learn to adapt to the way they are," Rivera said of Newton at the NFC Coaches Breakfast in Boca Raton, Florida, on Wednesday. "These are young people that express themselves. When he's happy, he's going to express himself, when he's sad he's going to express himself, too.

"So I think we just need to accept, understand or at least anticipate we're not going to get him at his best."

Rivera has no choice in the matter. He spent the season allowing the Panthers to be themselves and it nearly led to an undefeated season. Changing course after it implodes on the world's biggest stage would be disingenuous. Rivera knows how valuable a dialed-in Newton is, and he wouldn't dare criticize his quarterback at this point.

As we wrote after the Super Bowl, it's probably safe to infer that the Panthers wished Newton handled it differently. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey weaved their way back into the postgame interview room to watch Newton's news conference. Shula appeared to be motioning toward Newton, begging him to take his hood off and perk up a bit. That didn't happen.

Hopefully, Rivera's comments can put this to bed. The people who support Newton and believe that he doesn't owe the media anything aren't going to change their minds (and some might argue that this is the raw display of emotion that writers always want). Those who believe that this 'sore loser' mentality makes Newton unfit to lead a team won't change their minds, either.

Rivera is staying firm on his position, which means the Panthers are, too. That's all you really need to know.

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