Updated 09:46 AM EDT, Sat, Oct 23, 2021

Why Carolina Panthers' Ron Rivera Deserved Winning the NFL Coach of the Year Award Again

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The Associated Press recently awarded Carolina Panthers head coach and former Chicago Bears linebacker Ron Rivera with his second NFL Coach of the Year award.

Rivera, who was the first Mexican-Puerto Rican to play for a Super Bowl championship team in 1985, garnered 36 and a half votes from 50 media members across the United States, per NFL.com. His closest rival, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, received six votes while Bill O'Brien and Mike Zimmer got two apiece.

One of the main reasons that propelled Rivera's 2015 Coach of the Year bid was his unrelenting effort to help the Panthers open the season with 14 straight wins. The Carolina team was just the fourth in league history to do so. Not to mention, Rivera helped the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, despite the scary injury Kelvin Benjamin suffered back in August.

Rivera told Fox News that he dedicated his recent award to his brother Mickey, who succumbed to cancer last year. He also said the award validated the Panthers' stellar season and was a testament to the franchise's supportive management, hardworking coaching staff and outstanding players.

"I really do appreciate our owner, Mr. (Jerry) Richardson, for believing in me and giving me my opportunity," thanked the 54-year old California native. "Dave Gettleman and Marty Hurney - the two general managers I've worked with -- I thank them for what they've done.

The Chicago Tribune explained that the Panthers have high respect for their coach since he gives them the freedom to express their individuality. Rivera wants his players to keep their personality, but not deviate from the team's main goal.

He teaches his players to be who they are, not more or less. He said their individuality had greatly contributed to the team's successful 2015-2016 season.

The Carolina Panthers ultimately failed to win it all, losing to the Denver Broncos 24-10 in Super Bowl 50. Had the Panthers won, they would have become the first team since the 1985 Chicago Bears to win the Super Bowl with an 18-1 record.

After the action-packed match, Rivera vented his frustrations by saying the Panthers didn't come into the Super Bowl 50 with the mindset of finishing second place, per Sports Illustrated

"I don't want to diminish what we did this year, but we didn't come here to finish second," said Rivera. "We have an opportunity to learn and grow from this experience."

The Washington Post reported that this NFL season, the Panthers became just the seventh team to post a 15-1 regular season record since the league implemented the 16-game format in 1978.

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