When the Panthers’ offense took the field for their game against the Seahawks on Sunday night, Cam Newton wasn’t with them. And seeing as how Newton is the leader of the team and the reigning NFL MVP, everyone watching the game was like, "Uh, Derek Anderson in at QB for the Panthers—what gives?"
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera later explained that Newton was benched for one series—which ended up being a very short series after Anderson threw an interception right away—because Newton broke a "minor team rule." That rule? Newton apparently didn’t wear a tie when the Panthers boarded a charter flight for Seattle. He was wearing a black turtleneck and a blazer for the flight, instead of a shirt with a tie, and Rivera decided to punish him for it.
After the game, which the Panthers lost 40-7, Rivera didn’t apologize for sticking Newton on the sideline for a series. "My decision," he said. "Completely my decision. The decision was made because I treat them all the same."
And while Newton did point out that he wore a similar outfit for a different road game this year, he didn’t shy away from taking blame for not wearing a tie. "I feel I wore a similar outfit as this before and nothing was done," he said, "but [Coach Rivera] says he has rules in place and we have to abide by them. No person is greater than the next person and, you know, it is what it is."
Newton also pointed out that the Panthers "didn’t lose this game because of a tie." He’s right. The Panthers didn’t lose the game because of Rivera’s decision to bench Newton briefly. But still, can you believe Newton got benched for not wearing a tie?