The Washington Football Team nabbed a season opener win on September 13, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27 to 17, under their new head coach, Ron Rivera. It was his first game coaching Washington after spending 9 years working with the Carolina Panthers, and while the team came back from a 0 to 17 deficit to win, Rivera almost didn’t make it out onto the field after halftime.
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter tweeted after the game, “Washington’s Head Coach Ron Rivera, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, got a planned IV at halftime in order to make sure he could continue in the 2nd half. Then got his first W as Washington’s HC.”
The 58-year-old head coach missed practice on Tuesday for his first chemotherapy and proton treatment, as reported by ESPN. Rivera needs to have five treatments a week for seven weeks but has no plans to take a break from his role as head coach. While Rivera’s type of cancer isn’t life-threatening, the treatments he must endure will leave him feeling sick.
Through his health setback, the team’s name change, multiple accusations of sexual harassment in the franchise office from previous years, Rivera was able to bring Washington their first home-opener win since 2014.
Rivera First Revealed His Lymph Node Cancer Diagnosis in August
On August 21, Rivera revealed that he has been diagnosed with lymph node cancer, but plans to continue coaching, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He explained how he first found a lump on his neck in early July and didn’t think much of it. But when it didn’t go away after a couple of weeks, he scheduled a doctor’s appointment.
After learning he had squamous cell cancer of the neck, “I was stunned,” Rivera said. “But I was angry because I feel like I’m in the best health I’ve been in.” However, Rivera remains optimistic. He said the cancer is in the early stages and is considered “very treatable and curable”.
“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’s Brother Died from Pancreatic Cancer in 2015
Washington’s head coach learned a lot about the effects of cancer treatments after watching his brother, Mickey Rivera, fight pancreatic cancer. Mickey Rivera died in 2015.
Rivera told ESPN, “The thing I shared with the players is that my brother Mickey made a total commitment. 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. That’s the biggest thing I learned from that.”