Cam Newton confirmed that he was benched for the opening drive of the Carolina Panthers’ Week 13 game for violating the team’s dress code.
After the Panthers lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 40-7, Newton stood by head coach Ron Rivera’s decision to bench him for breaking the team’s rule.
The code he broke: not wearing a tie. Newton came to the game dressed in a black turtleneck.
“It came down to a dress code matter,” Newton said. “I didn’t follow dress code and coach told me I wasn’t going to start. I stand by his decision.”
Newton then gave an odd explanation for why he didn’t have a tie. Though it was a confusing answer, it sounds like Newton shipped his clothes to Seattle from California (where the team had been staying), and then didn’t have a shirt to match with his ties and struggled to find a shirt his size.
“If coach didn’t feel like I was dressed appropriately then I wasn’t. When you’re 6-foot-5, trying to get a shirt, I was away from home for a week, I didn’t pack a shirt. There were a lot of ties I was given but I can’t wear a tie with this. Meaning, I have a tank top on — we discussed it internally, me and coach, we got on the same page. I felt as if I wore a similar outfit like this before and nothing was done but he said he has rules in place and we have to abide by them. No person is better than the next person and it is what it is.”
During the game, numerous reports said that Newton had been benched for violating the dress code, but it was met with scepticism. As Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer noted, it would be strange for the Panthers to bench the reigning MVP in a must-win game on national TV.
The move immediately hurt the Panthers, as Newton’s backup David Anderson threw an interception that led to Seattle scoring on the opening drive. Newton took the field on the next drive, but the Panthers ultimately were blown out by the Seahawks.
Unless new details emerge about something else that took place between Newton and the team, it sounds like Rivera simply doesn’t like turtlenecks.
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