A lot of us can relate to the feeling of nostalgia. We feel it anytime we visit our home town, watch a football game at our old high school, or even dig through the trinkets of times gone by. So one could imagine the feeling that Ron Rivera gets when faced with playing the team where he spent 9 seasons as a player, won a Super Bowl, then went on to become a defensive coordinator. Yes, one might be inclined to think when he takes a look down at that Super Bowl ring that he might do a favor for his old city by losing the game on Sunday...
That one, seriously disillusioned individual, would be horribly wrong.
Rivera wants to win this game more than any other, and I'm sure there are some other players on the roster that would too.
More after the jump...
While Rivera may have won a Super Bowl in Chicago, his chief concern now is making the city just another footprint on the way to leading the Panthers to one of their own. Via an article posted on yahoo.com:
"I’m not going to downplay it," Rivera said. "Some people would say it’s just another game; no it’s not. They’re all big, but this has a little personal meaning for me because it’s Chicago. It’s a great city with a great organization."
Alright, so BAMF has some love for his former city, but still want's to win. Why though is this such a personal issue?
The Bears were a highly successful team with Rivera working as defensive coordinator from 2004-06 and he became a hot head coaching prospect, but Bears coach Lovie Smith let him go in favor of bringing in buddy Rod Marinelli.
Ruh Roh. That was something I didn't know about how Ron ended up in San Diego from Chicago. You think that he might have a little motivation to stick it to his old boss that fired him in favor of a friend? I know I would. Rivera will play Chicago with a very different team from last year, featuring rookie phenom Cam Newton, a re-vitalized Steve Smith, and a healthy Jeff Otah. In other words... the Panthers are coming locked and loaded with a real offense that has the full ability to outscore their counterparts.
You can bet that Rivera will be in the ears of his Panther players on both sides of the ball. Rivera is the kind of infectious personality with the ability to lead and motivate men to play well beyond their normal level. Chud had this to say about Rivera:
"He gives us the stories about playing with the (Bears) that he did and he relates it well with the players, like how they felt about each other as a group and the special camaraderie they had—the type of things we want to build here in Carolina," Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said. "He draws a lot on his experiences as a player for the Bears."
There are plenty of other things he will draw from his time with Da Bears throughout this week and on Sunday. He will make sure the team is thirsty for victory. He also has an ace in the hole in the form of Greg Olsen, who had full access to the Chicago offensive playbook before being traded to Carolina for a 3rd round pick. One would think that Olsen might have a thing or two to prove to Mike Martz, the man who couldn't find a use for Thor's talents in his offense. Add to that the constant desire of Cam Newton to lead his team to victory, and it could equal a statement game against the Bears in their own house. The Bears have problems protecting the quarterback as well, so you know that Charles "Big Money" Johnson and Greg "The Kraken" Hardy already smell blood in the water and are ready to sip it up. But not yet... Rivera will tell them, "you'll get your chance on Sunday, but until then...
...stay thirsty, my friends."