Written By: Devin Garner
On Aug. 20, The Washington Football Team announced that head coach, Ron Rivera had been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer. While this was sure not to be an easy fight for coach Rivera, he and other members of the front office reassured fans that he would still be the coach of the team throughout his chemotherapy treatments. After seven weeks of treatment, on Monday Oct. 26, the team announced that Rivera had finished his last cancer treatment.
When originally diagnosed in August, Rivera said in an interview with CNN, “I was stunned… But I was angry because I feel like I am in the best health that I have been in.” While the news was shocking to many, the team remained calm and rallied behind their well-renowned head coach. In the case that Rivera could no longer assume the role of head coach throughout his treatment, the team came up with a plan B that would give defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio the title of interim head coach while Rivera recovered.
However, throughout his treatment process, he only missed a few practices and never missed a game. While he did receive treatments during halftime of some games, it never affected his ability to coach the team. Many of the players and coaches even used Rivera’s courage to inspire their play and coaching. In an interview with Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post, offensive coordinator Scott Turner says, “I think if Coach can come to work and push through what he’s dealing with, none of us have any excuses.”
Now that Rivera’s treatment is completed, there will still be struggles that he faces along the way. According to John Keim of ESPN, Rivera will have several follow-up appointments and scans. However, now his cancer treatment is finished and he is on the road to recovery. As guard Brandon Scherff said in an interview with Keim in regards to what Rivera has overcome, “It’s amazing… Talking to him on the field, you would never know what he is going through.”
As Rivera’s team heads into the bye week of the NFL season after knocking off the division rival Dallas Cowboys, they find themselves in the midst of the NFC east playoff race with the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Whether or not they rally behind the feat of their head coach in the final weeks of the season to clinch a berth in the playoffs is yet to be determined.
Whether or not the team is able to clinch a berth in the playoffs or not, it should not overshadow what their coach overcame to allow his team to even be in the position in which they are in. Several weeks of fighting through what many would consider impossible just to ensure that he was still able to lead his team on and off the field. As stated by team president Jason Wright on Twitter in regards to the accomplishments of Rivera, “The complexities of culture change on a young team, a (weird) NFC East race, a pandemic, while fighting with [his] family, emotionally and physically, on a journey to health… We bear witness to something special.”