Now in his second season with Carolina, Rivera gets to coach against the Cowboys for the first time, but he has fond memories of his interview with owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones.
“When you get an opportunity to sit down and visit with people and you really get to express yourself, I think that’s a good thing,” he said.
Of all the interviews he had before getting the Panthers job, Rivera said the longest was with the Cowboys.
Jones named Wade Phillips as head coach and Rivera eventually took over a San Diego defense that Phillips had run.
“His insights into how he runs a team and what he’s expecting, I thought were outstanding,” Rivera said. “I really enjoyed it. And his son, Stephen, I thought the two of them really make a dynamic pair as far as what they’re trying to do and what they want accomplished. Believe me, he wants the Cowboys to be great. He really does. And that was one of the things I took away from my interview with them.”
Jones is the only NFL owner to win a Super Bowl and earn a national championship as a player. The man Rivera works for now, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, became the first NFL owner since George Halas to have played in the NFL. He caught a pass from Johnny Unitas in the 1959 NFL championship game for Baltimore.
“There are certain things that (Richardson) sees and understands, and I think that as a player they give you a different perspective,” Rivera said. “It doesn’t mean you’re any better than anybody. It just gives you a different perspective. ... When I talk about things with him he sees things from a player’s perspective as well as an owner’s perspective.”