Panthers coach Ron Rivera to end team's baseball bat ritual

“It's the No Fun League for a reason,” Rivera said.
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Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has decided to end the Carolina Panthers' motivational ritual of bringing out a baseball bat to pre-game warm-ups, he told reporters on Tuesday.

The Panthers have routinely brought out a baseball bat during warm-ups as a tribute to injured defensive back Bene Benwikere. Rivera was asked why he is ending the motivational prop if he has no qualms with it.

“Because I'll hear (about) it,” Rivera told reporters. “It's the No Fun League for a reason.”

Rivera also described the whole situation as “a huge misunderstanding.”

A new video of the Giants and Panthers' warmups shows Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers practice squad player Marcus Ball needing to be separated after exchanging words. Ball was holding the bat during the warm-ups.

The NFL has suspended Beckham for one game. Beckham was penalized three times for unnecessary roughness in the Giants' loss. Beckham and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman were involved in several physical altercations during the game, culminating with a helmet-to-helmet hit initiated by Beckham in the third quarter.

The NFL is also reviewing other Panthers players that could be fined.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent issued the following memo to teams in response to the bat controversy:

“As part of our responsibility to protect the integrity of the game, please be reminded that no foreign objects unrelated to the uniform or playing equipment are permitted on the playing field and sidelines on game day (which includes the pre-game period, during the game and post-game on the field). While we realize that teams and individual players may have items they use as motivation or to symbolize a theme that the team has used this season, we ask that you instruct your club and player to leave those items in the locker room. For the purposes of this policy, "foreign objects" broadly encompasses any item that is neither intrinsic to the game or necessary to conduct pregame drills and treat and prepare players for the game. To be clear, items such as massage rollers, agility ladders, medicine balls, and any equipment to assist the medical and athletics training staffs in treating players are permitted.” 

Arguments Beckham Jr. may raise in his appeal of one-game suspension

Panthers players reportedly directed anti-gay slurs and expletives at Beckham before the game, according to Rivera told reporters that anti-gay slurs are “an important social issue.”

- Christopher Chavez