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Head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers reacts against the New Orleans Saints during the third quarter in the game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 24, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers reacts against the New Orleans Saints during the third quarter in the game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 24, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers fire head coach Ron Rivera

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Twelve games into his ninth season with the team, the Carolina Panthers have fired head coach Ron Rivera.

Rivera was one of two Latino head coaches in the National Football League, the third in the league’s history, and was one of only four active head coaches of color in the NFL. The others are Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins. 

Rivera was born in Fort Ord, California to a mother who migrated from Mexico, and a military father from Puerto Rico. 

Prior to becoming a coach, Rivera played nine seasons in the NFL as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears after being drafted in 1984. He was the first player of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent to play in the NFL. The very next year, the Bears won the Super Bowl, making Rivera the first Puerto Rican to be a part of a Super Bowl winning team. 

During a 2012 interview, Rivera said upon his entry into the NFL, he never really thought about the fact that he was making history with his heritage. 

“I honestly wasn't aware of it until I got drafted and people started asking me to come talk to different Hispanic groups and I was like, ‘Hey, that's great.’ But it wasn't something I gave a lot of thought to,” he said. 

During his nine seasons at the helm, the Panthers compiled a 76-63-1 record. His most successful season came in 2015, when the Panthers finished with a 15-1 regular season record and a Super Bowl appearance. Since then, the team has struggled, making only one playoff appearance following that year. 

Through 12 games this season, the Panthers sit with a 5-7 record and outside of the playoff picture, losing their last four games. 

In 2003, the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule, which is an NFL league policy that requires teams to interview candidates of color for head coaching jobs. The rule was spearheaded after concerns in the league were raised over a lack of head coaching and managerial opportunities for individuals of color. 

Since implementing the rule, the NFL has had two seasons where one-quarter of the league’s 32 head coaches were people of color, including last season.

However, five of those coaches were fired prior to this season.

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