There are few jobs as demanding as NFL head coach and few battles as demanding as battling cancer. Well, Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera is going to keep doing both. He missed parts of two practices this past week, Wednesday for chemotherapy and Thursday because he was experiencing side effects of the chemotherapy. However, Rivera says he will continue to coach even with three more weeks of chemotherapy ahead of him.
In August, Rivera was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the skin. His doctors say that his prognosis is good, but Rivera is clearly feeling the effects of being an NFL coach who’s fighting cancer. Before Sunday’s game against the Ravens, Rivera received two rounds of IV fluids. He could also be seen sitting down during breaks in the action, which is a rarity for head coaches.
However, Rivera reiterated on Good Morning America Monday morning that he has no plans to leave his team or stop coaching with three more weeks of treatment scheduled. He says there are times when he’s felt strong but admits that other times when it’s been a struggle. But Rivera says he will keep coaching without being reckless.
“It’s who I am,” Rivera said Monday. “Listening to the doctors talking about how important it is to try and do as much of the routine as possible, but they also tell you, ‘Hey, be careful, listen to your body.'”
Fortunately, Rivera is receiving a lot of support from Washington players and fans, as well as his friends and family. Friends and family members purchased cardboard cutouts at FedExField to help raise $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. Washington players also wore “Rivera Strong” shirts during warmups with the head coach wearing one during Sunday’s game. Those kinds of things have helped keep Rivera’s spirits high as he continues to face two demanding challenges.
“I’m looking forward to it,” says Rivera. “As Stuart Scott said, I have it; it doesn’t have me. And it’s not how far I have to go, but it’s how far I’ve gone.”