NFLN survey/popular coach: Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Seattle's Pete Carroll was the overwhelming choice as the coach most players would want to play for outside of their own.

My guess is he was for the same reason the Carolina Panthers I surveyed wanted to vote for their own Ron Rivera even when told they couldn't.

Both embody what it means to be a player's coach.

They both seem to relate to their players on a level that doesn't require them to scream or become extremely negative to make a point. They both come off as coaches that care about their players as more than instruments to reach a goal.

Rivera often spends time observing his players during media availability from just outside the locker room. He wants to know what they're thinking, what they're doing and how they're responding.

When Steve Smith told reporters he had downgraded his chances of playing in the NFC divisional playoff game against San Francisco to 57 percent, Rivera played right along even though he never doubted his wide receiver would play.

"Fifty-seven percent," Rivera said with a smile, having obviously talked to Smith right after reporters. "That's what he told me."

That Carroll has brought the success he had at the University of Southern Cal to Seattle makes players want to play for him more. That Rivera turned the Panthers into a 12-win team and NFC South champions after consecutive losing seasons makes players want to play for him more.

It would be interesting to see how this survey goes a year from now if Rivera can follow this season with another winning one.

My guess is Rivera would pick up a few more votes.