Washington coach Ron Rivera shared the news with his team Thursday evening that he has been diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.
The team said the cancer, which is located in a lymph node and detected from a self-care check, is in the early stages and “very treatable and curable.”
Rivera, 58, is establishing a treatment plan in place after consulting with team’s medical staff and his outside physicians.
“For now, Coach has asked that the team keep things business as usual and remain focused, but a “Plan B” is in place if it is determined that he should take some time off,” the team said in a statement.
“Coach Rivera wishes to extend his thanks to the team doctors and athletic trainers, and all of the healthcare specialists who will be assisting him through his treatment plan. In addition, Coach Rivera wishes to extend his heartfelt thanks to the Snyders, coaches, players, staff and fans of the Washington Football Team, as well as his family for their love and support during this time.
Rivera and his family thanked the team and its fans on Twitter for their support.
Rivera told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that doctors encouraged him to keep coaching, though will start to feel the effects in three to four weeks.
“I was stunned, Rivera said, via Adam Schefter. “But I was angry because I feel like I feel like I’m in the best health I’ve been in.”
The news is a startling revelation for a franchise that has gone through a tumultuous offseason. The team abandoned its “Redskins” moniker, hired an outside investigator to look into allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and have three minority owners wanting to sell their shares.
“Some (players) were stunned,” Rivera said. “A bunch came up and wished me well. I said, ‘I’m going to be a little more cranky, so don’t [tick] me off.”
Washington hired Rivera in late December, bringing him into revamp the team’s culture and transform the team into a winner. The 58-year-old brought impressive credentials, spending eight-plus seasons with the Carolina Panthers and leading them to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2015 season. Owner Dan Snyder wanted Rivera to instill a “coach-centered” approach, giving him authority in personnel decisions.
In his first few months on the job, Rivera has gone about dramatically changing the franchise. He jettisoned players who did not want to be there, trading marquee names like Trent Williams and Quinton Dunbar. He brought in players that fit his style of physical and versatile football, notably drafting pass-rusher Chase Young with the second overall pick. And his duties extended beyond football matters, helping the team craft its response to George Floyd’s death and working with Snyder on potential name changes.
Rivera had not shown any indications that he was dealing with a cancer diagnosis, coaching the team through training camp. Upon the conclusion of each practice, Rivera gathers his team and leaves them with a message. After the first day of wearing pads, Rivera, for instance, told the players to pay attention to the finer details and clean up mistakes.
After Rivera’s disclosure, the team and others around the NFL wished him well.
“The Washington Football Team wishes Coach Rivera a speedy recovery, and we will be supporting him every step of the way,” the team said in the statement.
“Praying for Coach Ron & and Rivera family,” Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson tweeted. “Sending y’all love, know Ron gonna beat this.”