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Super Bowl 50 media day: Ron Rivera on Panthers confidence, Cam Newton, comparisons to 85 Bears

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The Carolina Panthers head coach met with the media at Super Bowl 50 Opening Night. He got a chance to talk about the team's confidence, preparing for the Super Bowl, his own return home to the Bay Area, and comparisons to the all-time great teams. We have a full transcript.

(on how he views his team) "Well I think they have great personality. I think that's part of it. We're a multi-cultural team. We have a lot of guys from different areas that really do appreciate who they are and who supports them. I really do think that that's a big part of it."

(on if he wants to win this Super Bowl for all of the Latin-American football fans) "Yes, I would love to. I think it is great to be considered a role model. It's great for the Latina community. I also think it's great we have an opportunity as a whole."

(on the comparison of the Panthers to the 1985 Bears and other great teams) "To me, it means a lot personally when you talk about the Bears legacy and having being a part of the '85 championship team. I think more than anything else, I think when you go back and look at those teams, it'd be very unfair to compare because they're different eras, different style of football, different type of football players and for the most part I think we want to make our own mark. If we can, if we get that opportunity, we'd most certainly love to. Now I think what's important is we establish who we are."

(on his message to the team in preparation for the Super Bowl) "Keep your personality. Be who you are. Be true to yourself. Don't be more, but don't be less. Be exactly who you are. That's what got us to where we are today."

(on the attitude, preparation and effort of the Carolina players) "I think so far they've had the right attitude as we've been preparing. I think preparation has been good. I'm really pleased with our practices last week, especially Friday. We were fully padded and I think the guys gave great effort. Today was pretty much - just try to get back into the swing of things. Get a feel for where things were in San Jose State, using their facilities, which I think are first string. They've done a nice job in allowing us to come in and use their facility. I think the guys have handled that very, very well.

(on adjusting to playing against Peyton Manning) "I don't think it's changed for the most part. He is who he is. Smart football player, makes good decisions and delivers a good football. His personnel is different - different kind of football team. Our preparation for the most part is by what they do and how they do it."

(on how Josh Norman has adapted to the spotlight) "Well I think the biggest thing with Josh really is we always knew he could do it. He knew he could always do it. It's just a matter of taking what he knows and doing it within the confines of what we are and who we are. And he's done that. He's taken that. He's taken that to the next level. I think that's helped him more than anything else because he plays with a lot confidence, a lot of bravado right now."

(on Josh Norman's personality influencing his performance) "I think his personality is a tremendous part of it because he's a very confident young man. I think as he keeps that confidence in the way he plays, I think you can see it as it carries over to who he is as a football player."

(on lessons he learned when he was a player in the Super Bowl) "I think more than anything else, taken from when I played is this is an opportunity. You only get so many of them. When I played, we were the youngest team to win a Super Bowl and a lot of people thought, ‘They'll get a chance to come back.' Well we never made it back. I‘m trying to make sure our guys understand that this could be a once in a lifetime chance and we have to take advantage of that now."

(on who his role model was growing up) "I was one of those guys who just really enjoyed watching the game. I loved a lot of them. When you talk about me and my Hispanic heritage, it was Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett, guys like that, Roman Gabriel. Guys I could look up to and really aspire to be like them."

(on the last time he saw Coach Flores) "I saw Coach Flores in the summer. We spent some time in Lake Tahoe, California, and it was great to see him and be around Coach Flores."

(on having the Super Bowl close to where he grew up and went to college) "I think it's tremendous. It's really a neat experience for me. My family is here today and my parents are here in the crowd somewhere. It's really neat to see them here and get them to be part of this and enjoy it. Everything that I am and everything that I've grown up to become is because of them. It's neat to be able to come home to my hometown community, be in the area, knowing this is where my wife and I met. My wife is from the Bay Area, as well, so this is a very special place for me. It kind of means my cruise has gone full circle."

(on the confidence level of Panthers players) "I think the confidence level is high, but it has been an evolution when we go back to when I started because for the most part, our core, our group of leaders on our football team have been with me for five or four years. You look at who our captains are and what they've meant to us as a football team, they've been part of this growth process. It's not like it happened overnight. It's taken five long seasons, seasons of ups and downs - a lot of downs to begin with. Then we rose up and we've had our moments. I think we've grown. We've taken advantage of the opportunity to grow and become who we are today because of the people that are around."

(on Carolina's biggest strength and weakness) "I think the strongest part really is that we've created a family atmosphere. There's a group of guys who have come together and played for one another. I think the thing that's really helped is they've taken ownership of this football team. I think we've grown equally in all phases as far as offense, defense and special teams. As far as weakness with us, it's really just about learning and knowing. We just don't know. We have a lot of young guys that are still growing and so there may be some things that are new to us."

(on Panthers QB Cam Newton heading into Super Bowl 50) "He's an interesting young man. He gets it. He understands it. He knows what it means. Being in the college spotlight when they went to the national championship game and won that, I think he's learned form that experience and he's taken a lot of it and he's using it right now. He's handled himself very, very well. He's very focused. He's done a lot of the things that we expect him to do, and he's done them the right way. I don't think and I don't expect him to lose focus on what the task at hand is. I think he truly understands what it means to win this game just because he's done it on the college level. Now is his opportunity to do it on the professional level."

(on sticking to who the Panthers are when preparing for the Super Bowl) "You do what you do, and now because we had the extra week last week, we were able to work on certain elements of our game. I really think the things that we've done in terms of preparation have really helped us, and I think we're going to do things that we do using our base fundamentals. I don't think we're going to change who we are. It's one of the things I talked to the coaches on Monday morning after we won the NFC Championship. I basically told the guys, ‘Hey, let's stay true to who we are. Let's play the game we've played. It's gotten us here where we are today. No need to change now.'"

(on this week's preparation for Sunday) "Well, for the most part, we'll come back - tomorrow is their day off. We'll come back and we'll go Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, just like a normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We tried to use last week as a normal week. We knew who we were playing so we prepared for Denver like we would any other week. We practiced using the same rep count that we normally do. The only difference was we went into full pads on Friday, had a fully padded practice. I thought the energy level was really high. I thought the guys were very sharp, did some really good things. For the most part, this week is about refining what we've done. I really liked the way they practiced last week. Today's practice, even though it was a chopped down version of it, I thought they handled it very nice."

(on the comparison of Carolina's defense to the 1985 Chicago defense) "I think there are some similarities for an aggressive style, attacking style of defense, not quite as aggressive like Buddy Ryan had. We have some pretty good personnel, a lot similar to like what we had back in '85. To me, it's unfair to compare these teams because they played in different eras - different style of football, different style of football players - but I do like the comparison because I do think there are some similarities."

(on being a role model for the Latina community) "I think it's great. I really do appreciate the fact that I'm a role model and I take that very seriously. I've had the opportunity to go back to my hometown and speak at a graduation. The one thing that I try to tell is, don't let anybody tell you no. You can't come from Seaside, California. You can't come from Marina, California, or Monterey, California, and be successful. I've been very fortunate. I've had a lot of good people help me along the way, starting with the people in those communities. Whatever you want, whatever you dream your dream is, go out and get it. There's no reason not to. One of my favorite sayings is don't let anyone tell you no that doesn't have the power to tell you yes."

(on Cam Newton's impact on the Panthers team as a whole) "I think Cam's very important to who we are. I think the big thing, more so than anything else, is these young men really rally around one another and Cam understands. He knows and his teammates know. That's why it's important that we as a football team understand that it's not just about one guy but it's about the group of men that work together. Cam knows that he couldn't have the success he's having if it wasn't for his offensive line protecting him or his receivers making plays or us being able to run the ball for one hundred yards per game or the tight end getting vertical or the defensive play. So it is a team game and we get the fact that Cam is a star."

(on staying true to who they have been the entire season) "I think you've got to stay true to who you are and stick with your personality, your character. That's real important. We've been very fortunate. I think we've built a good locker room. I think the character and chemistry in the locker room is what you want it to be. We try to talk about building a family-type atmosphere and a lot of that has to do with these guys keep their personality, character, who they are and are true to that. The one thing I try to tell them is don't be more, don't be less. Be exactly who you are right now."

(on having Spanish announcers in the NFL) "I thought it was exciting, I really did. I thought the passion and the excitement in which they announced the game is exciting to us and really enjoyed it. I think our players really, really enjoyed it."

(on his defense dominating in the first half of games) "I think, more than anything else, it's just us wanting to come out and play with energy. One thing you want to do is you do want to set an early tone, an early tempo to the game, and get that energy level up. We've been able to come out and strike while the iron is hot early on. I think the biggest thing more so than anything else is we just have to continue to be consistent."

(on if the Carolina players will be rattled if they get off to a slow start in the Super Bowl) "No. No, because of what we've gone through early in the game. Don't forget about how we had to come back against Seattle and things like that. So we've had to do those things before. We've had to come back and win football games when we needed to. We've gotten into situations where we've had to fight back and we've won football games that way."

(on having Cam Newton pass the ball more this year than recent years) "I think it's been an evolution. I think a lot of it goes back to Mike Shula and the offensive coaches envisioned two seasons ago. Unfortunately, two seasons ago Cam had the ankle surgery and then cracked a rib during the preseason, so it slowed that process down. Once we got into week thirteen of the 2014 season, you saw that evolution. You saw that growth and it's just been a continuation."