Rivera’s first season as a head coach was 2011, and the NFL was in a lockout. It cost Rivera and the Carolina Panthers nine weeks of crucial foundation-laying offseason practices. He didn’t meet his players until the first day of training camp in late July. The coaches had to cram to prepare the Panthers and rookie quarterback Cam Newton for the regular season.
“The biggest thing I learned was ‘Be ready,’” Rivera recalled to USA Today. “We were ready in every phase. We kept saying, ‘If we come back here, this is how much time we’ll have left to go.’ I kept adjusting the schedule weekly as we’d get into it.”