Much like Falcons owner Arthur Blank did in 2003, new Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper fired the coach he inherited with games to play and in a season where his starting quarterback suffered a major injury.
The Panthers, who had lost five of the past six games, are set to play the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Rivera, like Dan Reeves with the Falcons, led his team to a Super Bowl loss. While Reeves decided to walk away with three games left, Rivera was fired with four games to play.
During the 2003 season, the Falcons were playing without Michael Vick, who suffered a broken foot in the exhibition season. He missed the first 11 games of the season.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been out with a foot injury. He played in only two games.
“I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” Tepper said in a statement. “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community. I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”
Panthers secondary coach Perry Fewell has been named interim head coach.
In eight-plus season, Rivera was 76-63-1 and took the team to the playoffs four times. The Panthers won the NFC title in 2015 season before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
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