Fired Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he 'absolutely' plans to coach again

Graziano: Rivera firing won't be the last change in Carolina (1:35)

Dan Graziano reports that Panthers owner David Tepper's decision to fire head coach Ron Rivera is just the beginning of the coaching and organizational changes ahead for Carolina. (1:35)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When he was hired in 2011, Ron Rivera told former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson that he wanted to be a head coach for only eight to 10 years.

But after being fired by new owner David Tepper on Tuesday, Rivera said he has no plans to walk away from the league he has been a part of as a player and coach for 33 years.

"Absolutely," Rivera said Wednesday when asked whether he wanted to coach again. "... My intent is to coach again. I love coaching. Not just coaching because it's about winning football games, but coaching because you have an opportunity to impact young men and people. And that's what I want to do."

Rivera, who spoke for 35 minutes at his farewell news conference at Bank of America Stadium, said his goal remains to win a Super Bowl as a head coach, as he did as a player with the 1985 Chicago Bears.

He reached the title game with Carolina in 2015, losing 24-10 to the Denver Broncos.

"My biggest regret is not winning the Super Bowl," Rivera said.

Rivera seemed to push back at Tepper's use of the phrase "long-term mediocrity" to sum up the coach's tenure and the Panthers' history. Despite not having consecutive winning seasons in Rivera's nine years at the helm, the Panthers won three straight NFC South titles from 2013 to 2015.

"I'm proud I took over a 2-14 team and won back-to-back-to-back NFC South division titles," Rivera said in a five-minute opening statement. "I want to reemphasize: I'm proud I took over a 2-14 team and won back-to-back-to-back. See the emphasis? Won three in a row.

"Whether you define it by wins or losses or you define it by winning the division, to me that's three years in a row. ... I get tired of hearing, 'They couldn't win [two] years in a row.' No, we won three years in a row, so let's get that straight. And we were the first team in the NFC South to do it, so I'm doggone proud of that."

Rivera said his best coaching job came during the 2014 season, when Carolina won its final four games to win the division with a 7-8-1 record. That team went on to win a first-round playoff game before losing at Seattle in the divisional round.

Rivera believes the past two seasons would have been different if quarterback Cam Newton hadn't been injured. Carolina was 6-2 in 2018 before Newton's right shoulder injury limited his effectiveness and the team endured a seven-game losing streak.

Newton suffered a Lisfranc injury in the third preseason game this season and was shut down after aggravating the injury during a Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay. The Panthers, who lost their first two games, have gone 5-5 with Kyle Allen at quarterback, but have lost four in a row.

Newton plans to have surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN.

"The biggest thing that happened the last two years that contributed to this long-term mediocrity was we had no quarterback situation settled," Rivera said. "If you have a settled quarterback situation, you're pretty doggone good. Our problems didn't start until when? Until our quarterback got hurt."

NFL Network was the first to report that Newton planned to have surgery.

Tepper has said a couple of times over the past month that no decision has been or would be made on Newton's future with the team until his health is determined. Newton has one year left on his contract.

"So, at the end of the day, hopefully the young man is going to be healthy and it'll be a good sign for this team," Rivera said.

Rivera finished as the winningest coach (76-63-1) in Carolina history. He was the NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and '15. He also dealt with the aftermath of off-the-field crises, including Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy's domestic violence case and allegations of workplace misconduct by Richardson.

He believes the way he handled those situations, along with his record, will help him land a new job.

"I've got the right kind of experience," Rivera said. "Having gone through the things I've gone through, been where we've been, it gives me experience. It doesn't mean I'll be better than anybody else, but it gives me perspective."

One of Rivera's favorite things during his career at Carolina was wearing T-shirts to news conferences with a message. One of his favorite sayings after losses was "missed opportunities."

He combined both to conclude this news conference, holding up a black T-shirt with the words "missed opportunities'' on the front.

"It didn't match what I was wearing," Rivera said, explaining why he didn't wear the shirt. "And as I said, our greatest missed opportunity was we didn't win the Super Bowl. Thank you."