Panthers' DJ Moore: 'Surprised' By Ron Rivera Firing, But Understands 'It Is A Business'

Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore reflected on the firing of head coach Ron Rivera. Click to read. 

Tiki and Tierney
December 04, 2019 - 6:34 pm

Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore never experienced a coaching change since he arrived in the NFL. 

Until Tuesday afternoon, Moore, in the midst of his second year with Carolina, learned under the tutelage of one head coach: Ron Rivera. It's understandable why Moore was caught off guard when Panthers owner David Tepper relieved Rivera, the team's head coach since 2011, of his duties. 

The 22-year-old recalled the moment when Rivera addressed the Panthers for the final time. 

"He was emotional," Moore told Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney on Wednesday. "He tried not to be too emotional but he understood what was going on. He just knew that the progress we made as a team is going to be on the upright, coming real soon going into next year. 

It was a bit of a surprise, but we all understand it is a business," Moore said. "At the end of the day, you have to be able to produce to be able to stay in the league. When he came in today, he told us that. Everybody understood what he was saying and on from there; it was kind of an emotional time before we went to practice so that was a big deal."

Rivera won 76 games in nine seasons throughout his stint in Carolina. With a Super Bowl appearance and a few individual awards to boast, Rivera left his mark with the Panthers organization. Moore, Rivera's first round selection in 2018, referred to his former coach as just an "awesome guy" since he drafted. 

"When I got drafted there, we sat down and talked about life," Moore said. "...And not even football at that point - just him trying to get inside who I am as a person, who my family is was a big deal to me. It's special that he cared about my life outside of football."

The Panthers, however, lost four consecutive games. They sit well behind the New Orleans Saints, who've already clinched the NFC South, as starting quarterback Cam Newton plans to have foot surgery and has only appeared in two games this season. Moore interacts with Newton on a daily basis and says the quarterback's constant involvement is a "big deal to everyone on the team."

Carolina is 5-5 with Kyle Allen, Newton's backup, at the lead. Moore connected with Allen for four touchdowns this season, as the former University of Maryland standout leads the team with 980 receiving yards — a career-high mark. The wide receiver praised Allen's poise.  

"He's just confident in everything he does whether it's in practice or in a game," Moore said. "He's just going to be confident and understand the gameplay, know where to put the ball or a certain read. I've never seen him get shook over something in a game. He just goes out there and learns from what he did and go onto the next play."