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Ron Rivera feels 'disrespected' Panthers forced to open on road

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera feels "disrespected" that the NFL schedule makers didn't allow the defending NFC Champions to open at home.

He called it a "pain in the ass" to spend the entire offseason reliving the 24-10 Super Bowl 50 loss to Denver so the league could schedule a rematch at Denver to kick off the season.

"Forget the fact that you're the defending NFC champs and you deserve to open up at home in front of your home crowd on opening week," Rivera said on Friday, eight days after a 21-20 loss to the Broncos. "We're going to make you guys relive it for five more months. That's how I felt.

"So for the next five months I've got to put up with it, deal with it, answer the questions and relive it constantly over and over and over. Honestly, it became a pain in the ass."

The subject came up when Rivera was asked if there would be a moment before Sunday's home opener against the San Francisco 49ers to honor last season in which Carolina had an NFL-best 15-1 record during the regular season and won the NFC Championship.

That led to Rivera getting on his self-proclaimed "soapbox" about having to open at Denver.

"I struggled with that," Rivera said. "I really did from Day 1. There are so many things they could have done to honor us and honor our team, our fans and our city that I thought this would have been a great opportunity to show it.

"I feel like we were robbed of that. We had to wait a whole week to do it. You can tell, I'm disappointed it didn't work out that way."

Rivera said he will bring his grievance up at the annual league meetings, but he didn't sound optimistic that would do any good.

"But the scheduling is a whole different group of people," Rivera said. "There's not much we can do about it."

Rivera didn't find any solace in the league giving Carolina 10 days to prepare for a San Francisco team coming off a Monday night game.

He immediately pointed to Carolina's late-season Monday night game at Washington followed by a Saturday game against Atlanta. He also reference having to play at Seattle a week after playing at Oakland.

The Panthers plan to spend the week practicing in California to avoid consecutive cross-country flights.

"I mean ... we asked for certain things to help us out," Rivera said. "We didn't get any of it. I'm disappointed. Let's be honest. I've got a group of men in there that do the things that we ask the last five years, it's been a battle to get to where we are ... sometimes I feel disrespected."