ASHBURN, Va., – Players of the Washington football team surprised their coach, Ron Rivera, with a video and a donation to celebrate his negative biopsy test a year earlier this week.
A three-minute video featuring comments from eight players was shown at the team’s meeting on Friday morning. It featured highlights of Rivera ringing a bell in the hospital after his latest cancer treatment. The head coach underwent his one-year biopsy on Tuesday.
Rivera was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in August 2020. He underwent seven weeks of treatment during the season, has never missed a game and has only missed three practices. His daily fights, along with the return of quarterback Alex Smith, helped galvanize the team. Many have indicated that the pair were inspirations that helped the team go 5-2 down the home stretch and win the NFC East last year.
We are all still #RiveraStrong
The team surprised Coach with this video and donation at today’s team meeting after Coach’s one-year biopsy this week came back negative pic.twitter.com/at349DV9Ca
– Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) October 1, 2021
The video left Rivera visibly choked. At the end, he said the word “Wow” and bowed his head. The players then told him that they had raised money from each group of positions, raising more than $ 25,000 for research and treatment in proton therapy.
âAs a coach you always wonder if you can get the chance to touch the players and touch them,â Rivera said, before his voice started to crack again. “It was awesome. Thanks, guys.”
Rivera was declared cancer-free on January 29. But he said he was still struggling with the after-effects of what his body went through during the treatments. This always means getting tired early or taking naps every now and then.
âWhen you see what he’s been through last year, it really showed Coach’s strength,â Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said in the video. âIt’s something that everyone can gravitate towardsâ¦ when you don’t want to do things the right way, or you have one of those days when you have the ‘poor guy.’ You watch what the Coach Rivera has lived and it speaks for himself what kind of man he is and what kind of coach he is. “
Seven of the eight players who spoke are captains. They all shared the same feeling about their coach’s determination.
“We take it as a job, but the fight the coach had to fight was for his life,” right-back Brandon Scherff said. “To see him overcome all obstacles is an incredible feeling.”
Washington players will wear black decals on the back of their helmets with the words “Rivera Strong” for Sunday’s game in Atlanta. Like last year, Washington finds itself in a hole, but only 1-2. But with games coming up against the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos later this month, a win would come in handy for Washington.