New York

Panthers Coach Bans Bats on Field Before Games, Insists Team Did Nothing to Odell Beckham Jr.

A frustrated Ron Rivera will no longer allow Carolina players to bring baseball bats on the field before games even though he said the Panthers have done nothing wrong. 

The Panthers coach is upset about what he said are untrue reports that some players taunted Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with physical threats and homophobic slurs before Sunday's game.

Rivera said Tuesday that the Panthers wouldn't stand for that kind of behavior and the team found no evidence it occurred.

When asked if the Panthers hadn't broken any league rules why he made the decision do away with taking the bat on the field, Rivera said, "because I'm going to hear it if I don't."

"That's the truth of the matter," Rivera said. "So to avoid the situation and set of circumstances, let's just eliminate it. So that's what we're going to do. Again, it's the No Fun League for a reason."

Neither the Giants nor Beckham have released any statements accusing the Panthers of taunting the wide receiver before the game with physical harm or homophobic slurs.

Rivera said homophobic slurs are an important social issue and he doesn't take them lightly.

"If there is something out there that is factual, that there is truth or hard evidence, please present it to us as well so we can act accordingly," Rivera said. "We don't tolerate that here. We don't. If there is some truth to it we will react to it and handle it appropriately. Until there is, there's nothing for me to do."

None of the Panthers questioned about the incident addressed the issue in the open locker room session, which came before Rivera's press conference.

The coach said the baseball bat is used by the Panthers as a motivational prop, representing the team having a home run mentality when it comes to making big plays.

Rivera spoke to practice squad player Marcus Ball, who was seen carrying the bat before the game, but the defensive back denied any of the accusations.

"I've seen some of the clips but honestly they are benign," Rivera said.

The Panthers are 14-0 on the season and five wins away from completing an unbeaten season. They can wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC this Sunday with a win or tie against the Atlanta Falcons.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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