Rivera has lymph node cancer and the team later confirmed that he has squamous cell cancer of the neck. On a lighter note, Rivera says the cancer is in the early stages and is considered “very treatable and curable”.
Rivera Is Going to Coach
Rivera, 58, was diagnosed two weeks ago but made his team aware of the news Thursday evening and has no plans to take a break from working.
“I’m planning to go on coaching,” Rivera told Schefter. “Doctors encouraged me to do it, too. They said, ‘If you feel strongly, do it. Don’t slow down, do your physical activities.’ But everyone keeps telling me by week three or four, you’ll start feeling it.”
Rivera said he was stunned and mixed with some anger when the doctors told him since he thought he was healthier than he’s ever been.
Rivera Has a Plan B
Rivera is well aware that although his cancer isn’t life-threatening, he’ll start to feel sick from the treatments.
Just in case he needs to take a break from coaching he says he has a plan. He didn’t share the specific plan with Schefter, but the analyst believes Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would make sense as an interim since he has a resume full of head coaching experience.
Rivera Learned From His Brother’s Illness
Rivera’s brother, Mickey, passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2015 and Rivera has been a large part of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ever since his brother’s diagnoses.
He learned a lot from watching what Mickey had to go through and he’ll be coaching until he physically can’t anymore, as ESPN detailed.
“The thing I shared with the players is that my brother Mickey made a total commitment,” Rivera said at the time. “I have told the players how making a total commitment is so important.”
“That no matter what my situation and circumstances were, as long as I have my health I’m OK,” Rivera said. “That’s the biggest thing I learned from that.”
A Rollercoaster Season
The 2020 NFL season has already been a rollercoaster for virtually every team, but the Washington Football Team has been in the spotlight.
As if a pandemic and cancer weren’t enough, Rivera has already had to deal with a lot from a name change and stadium makeover to the sexual harassment allegations which were made public just weeks ago.
Maybe Rivera was holding back on his announcement until this incredible news died down a bit—that’s a selfless act.
Sending prayers to Rivera and looking forward to seeing him battle through this on the sidelines.
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