Washington Head Coach Ron Rivera has been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the neck, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. Rivera played for the Bears from 1984-92, and received the nickname “Chico” from defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. Rivera also served as Defensive Coordinator for the team from 2004-06 under Head Coach Lovie Smith, and is about to begin his first season as Head Coach of the Washington Football Team. Rivera says he plans to continue coaching.
“Riverboat Ron” previously served as the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers, where he coached the team to an AFC championship and an appearance in Super Bowl L. That season was noted for stellar performances from Quarterback Cam Newton, who won the MVP award, and Linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was 1st-Team All-Pro and won the Butkus Award for top linebacker in the NFL.
During his stint as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, Rivera was instrumental in coaching the defense of the 2006 Bears, who won the NFC championship on their way to an appearance in Super Bowl XLI. That famous defense, being “who we thought they were,” carried an offense through multiple games that year behind Pro Bowl seasons from Defensive Tackle Tommie Harris, Outside Linebacker Lance Briggs, and Middle Linebacker Brian Urlacher. On Coach Rivera, Urlacher has previously called him instinctive, aggressive, and “really good at putting guys in the right place.”
We wish Coach Rivera a speedy recovery, and if you would like to do your part, you can donate to the American Cancer Society at cancer.org