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Rivera upset by characterizations of his players

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he’s disappointed in the “assumptions and innuendoes” alleging his players threatened New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and directed homophobic slurs toward him before last weekend’s game, and will take action if someone presents credible evidence it occurred.

Several media outlets reported Monday that Beckham felt intimidated by the Panthers’ pregame actions, which included practice squad safety Marcus Ball carrying a bat and getting into a verbal confrontation with Beckham.

Rivera said the bat controversy was overblown — pointing out it was a motivational prop used previously by other teams and players — and added the Panthers take the other allegations seriously and will take appropriate action if needed.

“I’m a little disappointed in it to be quite honest because a lot of it has been assumptions and innuendos. We’ve not heard from Odell. He hasn’t released a statement. Their organization hasn’t released a statement. But I keep hearing all these things that everybody else is saying,” Rivera said Tuesday.

“So that disappoints me because if there’s something out there that’s factual, there’s truth, there’s hard evidence, please present it to us as well so we can react accordingly. We don’t tolerate that here.”

Beckham was suspended for one game Monday after picking up three personal fouls during the Panthers’ 38-35 victory, including a late, helmet-to-helmet hit on cornerback Josh Norman.

The Panthers counted 12 Beckham-related incidents during the game in which he was the instigator, including 10 involving Norman.

A video taken before the game at MetLife Stadium shows Ball confronting Beckham while holding the bat. But Rivera believes the video clips were benign, and said Ball told him he didn’t threaten Beckham or use anti-gay slurs.

“Marcus has given me no reason not to believe what he told me. I heard nothing. Several of the people around him heard nothing to be construed as something homophobic,” Rivera said. “Having said that, unless there’s an audio or something out there to show me …

“I’ve seen some of the clips, but honestly they’re benign. They’re going to say some thing or the other.

“People are going to interpret it. But the truth of the matter is, give me some concrete evidence so I can sit down and get this taken care of. If not, let’s move on to the next thing.”

Rivera wondered aloud whether Monday’s reports were somebody’s attempt at “spin control” while Beckham and the Giants waited for the league to announce his suspension.

And while Rivera sees nothing wrong with the secondary’s bat tradition, he plans to end it.

Why?

“I’m going to end up hearing (about) it. So to avoid the situation and set of circumstances, let’s just eliminate it. That’s what we’re going to do,” Rivera said. “It’s the No Fun League for a reason.”

Rivera