No, you’re not living in the twilight zone. Cam Newton was actually benched for a series on Sunday night for not wearing a tie on the team flight from San Jose to Seattle on Saturday.
The Panthers didn’t fine Newton or make him run stairs at practice. No, they publicly shamed him and benched him for Derek Anderson, who threw an interception on the first play of the game. Carolina lost 40-7 to fall to 4-8.
Ron Rivera, naturally, is taking a proverbial beating for benching his best player – at least for the most part.
“I’m actually happy that they finally put their foot down with Cam a little bit,” BlackandBlueReview.com Panthers reporter Bill Voth said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Was this the way to do it? I don’t think so. I think Ron Rivera still arguing that players shouldn’t talk after a Super Bowl because his quarterback didn’t want to – I think that’s ridiculous. I think there’s times where they could have done this that would have been more effective, but finally they’re standing up to him. Cam is his own building inside that building – just like probably Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay and Brady is in New England. This is what these superstars are, but I think Ron wanted to reel him in. Was it the right time to do it? Probably not.”
Newton eventually entered the game and finished 14-of-32 for 182 yards and one touchdown – a 55-yard strike to Ted Ginn. Overall, though, Newton had a bad night.
Not many people seemed to notice.
That’s what happens the reigning MVP gets benched for not wearing a tie.
“It is stupid and it’s petty and it’s ridiculous and that’s why it’s a story,” Voth said. “Really, Ron? This is what you’re going to put the foot down for? A tie? Really, what does one series do when you miss a meeting? That never does anything anyway. So the whole punishment thing is ridiculous anyway. It’s become a clown show. And the thing is, while one part of my brain can defend Ron Rivera, the other part is in these battles, when you pick a fight with the NFL MVP or the franchise quarterback, you rarely win those. Those are really hard to win. So we’ll see how this plays out over the final month going into next year. But Ron Rivera, while he’s had a roller-coaster ride here in Carolina – he’s done mostly good things – this now puts a target on his back with the fan base and even just nationally. This is something that I don’t think is going to look good on him. While I think I can argue for him doing the right thing, this is a tough fight to pick.”
Carolina hosts San Diego (5-7) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.