Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera played for Mike Ditka and the dominant 1985 Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX. Ahead of Super Bowl 50, Rivera plans to give his team the same advice he got from Ditka.
"One of the things coach Ditka emphasized to us was to enjoy the moment,'' Rivera said Monday, via ESPN. "The moment doesn't come very often. It's hard. It's hard to get to where we are right now.''
The Panthers have enjoyed this season more than any other team, plowing over opponents to a 17-1 record.
Expect more dancing, dabbing and pure merriment from the Panthers during Super Bowl week -- much to the haters' chagrin.
"They're going to embrace it,'' Rivera said. "It's really a matter of managing it more than anything else. They've earned it. They deserve it. But the thing we've got to remember is what we're playing for, and that's to win it.
"It's not about getting there. It's not about being a part of it. It's about winning it. And that will be our main focus.''
Rivera and the Broncos' Gary Kubiak will become the sixth and seventh men to have both played and coached in a Super Bowl. Ditka, Tony Dungy, Forrest Gregg, Dan Reeves and Sam Wyche round out the group.
His experience with the '85 Bears and as an assistant for Chicago, in the 2006 loss to Peyton Manning's Colts, gives Rivera perspective on how to handle the moment.
"Do what you've done,'' Rivera said. "Some of my experiences in coaching, you get to certain experiences like the playoffs, and sometimes you get a little bit of panic. Am I doing enough? Should I do more? Should I change this?
"I told our coordinators this morning, we're going to stick to what got us to where we are. We'll emphasize that to the players and make sure we keep our personality.''
The Panthers are loose, brash and, yes, a little cocky. Led by Cam Newton, the Panthers have enjoyed a magical ride. They won't change now.