Panthers quarterback Cam Newton knew he would be disciplined if he did not wear a tie on the team bus, a team source told SI's Jonathan Jones.
Jones reports that Newton had previously been issued a warning about his attire by Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
Newton showed up to the team bus the day before Carolina's game against Seattle without a necktie, something he had done before, and Rivera punished him by benching him to start Sunday's game. Backup quarterback Derek Anderson instead led the team’s first drive, throwing an interception on the first play of the game that turned into a Seahawks field goal. Newton returned on the following drive.
The Seahawks ultimately blew out the Panthers, 40–7.
A video obtained by TMZ appears to show Rivera meeting with Newton outside the team bus to address the issue. Rivera reportedly got off his bus before they left for the airport and pulled Newton off his bus to speak with him about his attire.
After the game, Newton addressed his decision, saying he thought he had done something similar previously without being punished.
“I feel I wore a similar outfit as this before and nothing was done, but [Rivera] says he has rules in place and we have to abide by them,” Newton told reporters Sunday night. “No person is greater than the next person and, you know, it is what it is.”
The Panthers are in last place in the NFC South with a 4–8 record.
Note: This story originally stated that Rivera explicitly warned Newton on Saturday that he would be benched if he failed to wear a tie. The story has been updated to reflect that Newton already knew he could be disciplined if he did not wear a tie.