NFL Coach of the Year contender Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers are expected to have the support of the Hispanic community when they play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 next Sunday.

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Viva Rivera.

NFL Coach of the Year contender Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers are expected to have the support of the Hispanic community when they play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 next Sunday.

Rivera is Hispanic, raised by a mother of Mexican descent and a father whose family still calls Puerto Rico home.

With Rivera now in his fifth year at the helm, the Panthers’ popularity has become so widespread in the Hispanic community they now employ their own broadcast team to call their games in Spanish.

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Rivera knows he isn’t the first Hispanic to coach in a Super Bowl — Tom Flores won two championships with the Oakland Raiders — but jokes he still feels like a “trailblazer.”

Rivera was raised in a military family, a self-described Army brat. His parents met at a USO dance, the Rivera family moved from one military base to another, with stops in Maryland, Washington, Panama and Germany. But home base for the Riveras always was Fort Ord, Calif., a little over an hour’s drive from Santa Clara, the Super Bowl site.

“It is a homecoming of sorts,” Rivera said.

He became an all-American linebacker at California and was the Bears’ second-round draft choice in 1984. Cerebral and hardworking, it was no surprise Rivera ventured into coaching.

Bears coach Dave Wannstedt offered him an unpaid internship in 1997 and Rivera accepted. He quickly moved up the ranks, becoming defensive coordinator in 2004. Rivera reached the Super Bowl two years later, a loss to Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning — the same quarterback, of course, the Panthers face Sunday.

Rivera was passed over for nine head-coaching positions before landing with the Panthers in 2011. After a slow start, he’s won three consecutive NFC South titles and is 37-15-1 during that span.

Flores, who also coached the Seahawks, got to know Rivera well last summer at a charity golf tournament. Flores hopes to see Rivera for a few minutes this week to catch up.

Rivera has called Flores a trailblazer and said Flores’ success helped lead him into coaching after his playing career. That respect means the world to Flores.

“You work a lot of years, you do a lot of things, you know you’re watched and in some cases you’re an example,” Flores said. “It’s nice to know and makes me feel good.”

SAN FRANCISCO — The Denver Broncos arrived in the Bay Area on Sunday for Northern California’s first Super Bowl since 1985, followed soon after by the Carolina Panthers.

Former Broncos running back Terrell Davis, the Super Bowl MVP in 1998, met the Broncos players as they exited their jet.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton emerged from his team’s plane wearing gold, black and white zebra pants, which set social media ablaze.

The Broncos are in their second Super Bowl in three years; they lost 43-8 to the Seahawks in 2014 in New Jersey. Carolina has been to one, losing to New England in 2004.

The first big event this week is media day on Monday — actually, it’s at night this year.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are still giving Calvin Johnson time to ponder his future.

The team issued a statement saying it stands by its previous statement that supported Johnson, after ESPN reported Sunday that the superstar receiver told family, friends and Lions coach Jim Caldwell that he is retiring. ESPN did not name its sources.

Johnson declined to say last season if he would restructure his contract, which calls for him to count $24 million against the salary cap in 2016.

If the 30-year-old chooses to retire, he will walk away from the game despite having the physical ability to play more, just as Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders did.