Highlights from Ron Rivera's sendoff press conference

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CHARLOTTE -- That was Ron Rivera, true to form.

Forthcoming, honest, and yeah, a little bit of humor. And of course, T-shirts.

Carolina's head coach for the past nine years conducted his final press conference after addressing the team for the final time Wednesday morning.

Below are some of the highlights from the 30-minute session.

On if he was surprised: "I was surprised, just because if anything, I thought it would happen at the end of the season, to be honest with you. I know he'd talked about doing some things differently and I get that. That's part of the business of owning a football team, and at the end of the day, when you lose football games and you have a chance to win them, that's a tough pill to swallow."

On memories: "There are so many really good moments. There really are. I think probably the thing that hit me the most, really, is when you see the guys have success. It could be something as simple as a player finally understanding a play, something that happens. Just, there really were so many of them, but I will remember, and I really appreciate the team gave me a painting, an image of something they put together for me and it was all about the 2015 team. I have a picture of the six team captains with the NFC Championship trophy. That might be one of my fondest memories."

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On addressing team: "I tried to wing it. It was tough, it was, because there's a lot of really good young men in that room. There really are. I just wanted to make sure they knew how much I appreciated them, how much I believe in them. I wanted to make sure I thanked them, I thanked the coaches and the support staff that were in there. It was cool, it really was. It's a great group of young men. It's funny. One of the things I always tell the players is the best team has a great sense of family. The best family has a great sense of culture. Within that culture, there's tremendous character, and when you think about that last phrase, 'There is tremendous character,' there's a lot of young men in there that have tremendous character. A lot of guys that fight through a lot of things, a lot of guys that have to deal with a lot of stuff, not just on the football field, but off the football field. I pointed out guys like Greg Olsen, who's dealt with his son's heart situation and through all that has been a champion on the football field. I mentioned Eric Reid, whose strong belief and never wavering on that speaks to his tremendous character, and I wanted to remind those players that at the end of the day when you walk out that door, as I will pretty soon, it's all about your character. I think that's really important, and I wanted to make sure I talked about that."

On defiance in voice: "It's a matter of semantics. That's the thing I need everybody to understand. Stop looking at the negative things and start looking at the positive things. Those are things that are being built, things that are being done. Pay tribute to those. Those three winning division teams, nobody thought in 2014, heck, I remember you wrote us off in your article. In all honesty, I brought it into the meeting room and I told the players, 'This is your epithet, or you can change it,' and that's what we did. I told the players I never stopped believing in the 2014 team. I was fortunate to have won two NFL Coach of the Year awards, and honestly, the best coaching job I did was in 2014 keeping those guys together, getting those guys to believe how good they are, and not just winning, but having a playoff game at home, winning that playoff game. Those guys were tremendous that year. Those were the kind of memories I'll remember, because nobody gave us a chance. We had to win four in a row, so to win three consecutive divisions, which has only been done twice in this division, and the second time was just done, we were the first team to do it. I do, I carry a tremendous amount of pride. You want to ask me why I'm wearing my ring? I want to make sure everybody knows, that's why I wore it."

On coaching again: "Coach again? Absolutely. Absolutely. I've got four weeks off until the start of the new season. Well, actually a little bit longer until February, but my intent is to coach again. I love coaching, and not just coaching because it's about winning football games, but coaching because you have the opportunity to impact young men, people, and that's what I want to do. I want to be able to coach people and impact people and win football games and hopefully win a Super Bowl. Somebody want to ask me my biggest regret? My biggest regret is not winning the Super Bowl. I know I stood up in front when I first got the job and told people I was going to win a Super Bowl, and that's my biggest regret as the head coach of this football team is that we didn't win it. We got there, and we had our chance, we had our opportunity."

On players reaching out about off field impact: "I think it's important, because we've got to see these young men as more than just football players, and that's why I talked about the character in the locker room. It's young men like Greg Olsen and Eric Reid that are going to change this world and make this world a better place. I believe that my job is more than about being on the football field and trying to direct things and Xs and Os. It is about winning though, it really, truly is, because this is production-based and I get that part of it. But when you have guys like that, guys that can make an impact, you want to make sure they're doing things the right way, and that's all I tried to do with these guys. When I told them when I walked out that I loved them, it's because I loved them for who they are to me. They might be something else to somebody else, but to me, they're my guys, and I'll always remember that."

His pitch to the next owner: "There are a lot of things I would do differently, there really are. I think I've got the right kind of experience; I do. I just think that having gone through the things that I've gone through, been through the things that we've been through, been where we've been, it gives me experience. It doesn't mean I'll be better than anybody else, but what it does give me is perspective. I've had perspective, and I told this to the players, I played in this league, I was fortunate to play. It doesn't mean I'm going to be a better coach than anybody, but it means I'm a coach who has perspective. Well, I'm a coach that has perspective, I've been through it. Like I told you guys, at the end of the day, it's production based. You don't produce, it's time to move on. I'm kind of excited, I really am. I'm really looking forward to a lot of opportunities. I'm looking forward to a little bit of time. I was looking forward to a little bit of rest, but Stephanie already had me doing the dishes last night, so that's a little different."

On not fitting Tepper's mold: "No, I think at the end of the day, Mr. Tepper wanted to do what he wants to do. He wants to do it his way, he wants to hire his own head coach. That's what football is about, it is. It's his prerogative. I respect that."

On how he'd summarize the nine years with Cam: "They were great, they really were. Unfortunately, the injuries caught up to him a little bit. And I think now the uncertainty is going to be ironed out. He'll come back and we'll see what happens. In my nine years, the young man has been nothing but upfront with me, honest, supportive, caring. I really do appreciate it."

On messages of support and admiration: "It meant that I did something right. I've been doing things the right way. It gives me confidence in what I do and how I do it. I really do appreciate the words I've gotten from my fellow coaches. That's been great. It's been really cool."

On southern hospitality: "When our house caught fire, we really got a sense of what southern hospitality meant. One of our neighbors at 5 in the morning opened up his house and his wife got up and made breakfast for my family while our house was burning. The neighborhood watch kicked all the media out when they wanted to take pictures. It was amazing. Those are things I'll always remember."

On Perry Fewell taking over as interim head coach: "I told the players, 'Give Perry everything you've got for the next four weeks.' It's an opportunity and we want to make sure he makes the most of it. And Scotty (Turner), he's on the edge. He's on the precipice. He's ready. I'm excited for those guys. As I told the players, they've got four weeks to audition."

What did it mean to have your family so closely tied to the organization? "It meant a lot. I've had a couple people criticize me for having my wife around and my daughter around and I told the players in there that I hope you understand that I was just trying to be the best example. I wanted Stephanie around because I wanted you to see how you're supposed to be around your wife. I wanted my children around because I wanted the players to see how to be around their children. I think that's important. We set examples for the people that are around us. Whether you're a head coach or you're a fireman or a reporter or teacher or whatever you are, you're supposed to set an example. That's what I tried to do is be that example. That's why I did the things that I did. That's why it was outstanding to have my wife and daughter around me so tied into the football team."

On how amicable his exit has been: "These are circumstances that we can't control. I told the players that there are three things that you control in your life, your attitude, preparation and effort. These are things that got out beyond it. The truth is, I get it. I understand. I've been in this league long enough. This is my 33rd year. I get it. I know how things are supposed to be. When things don't happen, you're taken to task. Whether that's you're sat down and told you have to do this or do that or you're let go. I didn't come into this with any false hopes or anything. I came in being realistic and knowing that at some point or some day that I'll be fired. That's just the way it is. Very rarely do you ever see a person get to leave this game on their own terms. For me, yesterday when I had the conversation with Mr. Tepper, there was no animosity. He was honest. He was upfront. I appreciated his approach. I thought it was a fair approach because he wanted to do some things with some guys. And instead of having me sit there and have to answer Joe's question every day about how do you feel about your job prospects. I didn't have to deal with that. As far as I'm concerned that's life. That's the way it moves on. Pretty soon I'll start getting ready for the next chapter because, believe me, I'm pretty excited about it."

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