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Ron Rivera says Cam Newton didn't talk after the Super Bowl because he's a millennial

Rivera also says he thinks players who lose in the Super Bowl shouldn't have to speak with the media afterward.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton was roundly criticized after he walked out of his post-Super Bowl press conference last month. Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera has a theory as to why he did it.

At the NFC coaches' breakfast Wednesday, Rivera said Newton shunned the press because of when he was born.

"These are millennials, these are young men and women athletes that are being brought up in a different way and we need to learn to adapt to the way they are," Rivera said, via "These are young people that express themselves. When he's happy, he's going to express himself, when he's sad he's going to express himself, too.

"So I think we just need to accept, understand or at least anticipate we're not going to get him at his best."

Just minutes after dropping his first Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos -- and strangely refusing to jump on a fumble late in the fourth quarter -- Newton was peppered with questions from the media. He muttered one-word answers before leaving after less than a minute. It's been speculated Newton walked away from the podium after hearing Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. talking trash a couple of feet away during his round of postgame interviews.

Rivera also said Wednesday he doesn't think any player should be expected to meet with the media after losing a Super Bowl.

"What we ask players to do after a game like that is tremendously unfair. I really do mean that, too," Rivera said. "In a situation like that, there is only one person that needs to talk, and that’s the head coach. Let him handle the situation and answer the questions. If not, that’s what you are going to get. That’s unfortunate, but that’s the truth."

As a head coach, Rivera's position is understandable, but in many ways, Newton's silence spoke louder than words.