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Ron Rivera looks back at the origin of his T-shirt craze

CHARLOTTE – Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.

It seems like head coach Ron Rivera has a T-shirt to represent everything that happens to the Panthers. That’s not too far from the truth.

“I’ve got a whole bunch of them in my locker. I don’t have a count,” Rivera said. “Now I’ve started getting T-shirts from people on the outside asking me to wear one to help with their causes.”

Rivera, sporting a Sir Purr shirt while talking to local media Friday, shed a little light on the humble beginnings of what has become one of his signatures. Early in his tenure in Carolina, Rivera spoke to a group of Ganassi Racing employees at the invitation of co-owner and longtime friend Felix Sabates. Rivera discussed his “Control Your A.P.E.” philosophy – Attitude, Preparation, Effort – and Sabates had T-shirts made representing it that he shared with his employees and with Rivera.

“The players loved it, so I gave one to every player,” Rivera said, who credited his wife for the next chapter. “Then the next one was Stephanie’s idea – to do the ‘Riverboat Ron’ T-shirt for charity. That’s kind of taken off with a little bit of a life of its own.”

As has Rivera’s T-shirt thing across the board.

“I’ve found that this is a little bit of a platform,” he said.

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