In Memoriam: Riverboat Ron Rivera
In the understatement of the century, we here at The Loop are a bit partial to gambling. The office throws around bets, parlays and (eventually-losing) guarantees with the same consistency that Mitch Trubisky throws ducks. Thus, we fly the flag at half-mast today for a loss that hits close to home. Ron Rivera, after a shaky season that was chockfull of broken expectations, has been officially fired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
At his peak, Riverboat Ron Rivera was the patron saint of gamblers, changing his coaching style and money-balling his way back into the NFL playoffs. Back in 2014, staring a 1-4 record in the face, Rivera elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 twice instead of kicking a field goal. The second attempt led to a touchdown, which snowballed into a 35-10 victory for the Panthers and degenerates everywhere.
After this proto-Minneapolis Miracle, Rivera and the Panthers became risk-takers, wheeling and dealing their way to 11 wins in their final 12 games of the season. Rivera went on to win 2013 AP NFL Coach of the Year. Should've bet on him on then...
A 15-1 record the subsequent season stuffed with fourth-down conversions and perilous decision-making culminated in a Super Bowl appearance, proving Riverboat Ron's worth. It also cemented the nickname, which sticks to this very day.
Rivera has since backed away from the moniker, stating that he's "a calculated risk-taker," not a gambler. But that's just what a gambler would say. And we salute him for that.
So while Rivera may be gone, his contribution to the world of gambling will not die with his coaching career. During Rivera's tenure as head coach of the Panthers, sports gambling has legitimized slowly but surely across the United States. Thirteen states now have legal, regulated sports betting industries, with six more closing in.
Coincidence? I think not.