- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Former Broncos safety T.J. Ward sounded off on Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera for saying he was “beyond frustrated” that so many WFT players have refused to get the vaccine for COVID-19 — suggesting the Washington coach retire if he doesn’t feel safe around his team.

Ward also heavily implied that Rivera was responsible for his own cancer diagnosis — a comment that drew plenty of backlash on social media. Ward later deleted the tweets, attempting to clarify his position.

“Just park the Riverboat,” Ward wrote on Twitter in a now-deleted tweet, a reference to the longtime coach’s nickname of “Riverboat Ron.” “His health is beyond that of COVID. Maybe it’s time to let it go.”

“Don’t blame the players for your lifelong health decisions,” he wrote in another deleted tweet.

On Tuesday, Rivera said it was “very frustrating” that Washington had the league’s worst vaccination rate. Only 60% of the team’s players have gotten at least one shot. Rivera, who underwent painful cancer treatments while coaching last season, revealed that he‘s immune-deficient, telling reporters he often has to wear masks around players in group settings since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Rivera was diagnosed with cancer in his lymph nodes last summer and was cleared in January.

Ward didn’t apologize for his remarks, though posted that he “didn’t mean to offend” Rivera.

“Gonna address this one time more,” Ward tweeted. “I was not trying to be insensitive to anyone [affected] by the cancer. I know you don’t chose to get cancer. And I tried to clear that up. If you know me and my career, you know what my support for cancer people dealing with it.”

Ward played eight seasons in the NFL from 2010 to 2017 and made the Pro Bowl twice.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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