On the eve of their first training camp as the Washington Commanders, coach Ron Rivera lamented his life since he took this job.
He was asked about his team being in the news all the time.
“It’s almost to be expected to be honest with you,” Rivera said, in a revelatory moment describing the job description that wasn’t included when he interviewed with “Skipper” Dan Snyder.
“It goes in cycles,” he said. ‘It is situation circumstances, and to use a quote that, it is what it is, and I try to make sure it, for us, it’s what’s interesting versus what’s important and we’re back to football. And to me, the important thing is football. I’m here to be judged on that.”
OK. I know it may have slipped everyone’s mind, given the deluge of bad news that surrounds this franchise, but just last month, Rivera was fined $100,000 and lost two OTA practices for 2023 for excessive contacts during spring drills.
That may be football, I’m not sure.
Then he spoke about the burden of the aura of self-destruction.
“Does it make what I do harder?” Rivera said. “Yeah, it really does, because, and again, all that stuff that’s happened, that’s important.
OK. It is.
“But to me, as a football coach, what I have to do is I’ve got to make this team presentable as a football team on the football field and in the community,” he said.
Presentable? It’s good to have goals.
“The players and coaches, we have to have success,” Rivera said. “We have to go out and play. Why? Because we need the fans behind us. The fans get behind us, give us support … build this up, get some momentum going … ”
Sorry, Ron, have to interrupt you for one of those cycles you spoke of. Your owner, Skipper Dan, testified Thursday virtually from his yacht somewhere overseas, where he has been hiding to avoid appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to testify about the toxic work atmosphere within the franchise under his ownership, the sexual misconduct allegations and just the overall subhuman tenure of his ownership.
“Snyder has committed to providing full and complete testimony, and to answer the Committee’s questions about his knowledge of and contributions to the Commanders’ toxic work environment, as well as his efforts to interfere with the NFL’s internal investigation, without hiding behind nondisclosure or other confidentiality agreements,’’ a committee spokesperson said in a statement.
Skipper Dan agreed to testify virtually — not under subpoena — but under oath. That’s half a win for the committee, who wanted Skipper Dan on live streaming for the world to see the meltdown that surely would have taken place.
Remember Happy Thanksgiving?
But they did get an agreement that his testimony will be under oath. I suspect Rivera, who had to brush up on constitutional studies about the First Amendment after his defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, sabotaged the franchise with his “dust-up” comments about the Jan. 6 insurrection, will have to study his Fifth Amendment after his boss’ testimony — which I assume we will read, not see or hear — is revealed.
There reportedly will be a transcript of the testimony, and it is up to the committee if it gets released publicly. I can’t fathom any scenario where it is not released by the committee. Any deal with Skipper Dan’s mouthpiece to withhold the transcripts would be hypocritical on a nuclear level after the committee has repeatedly admonished the NFL for withholding details of the Beth Wilkinson investigation into Skipper Dan and the organization.
OK, Ron, back to football.
“A lot of optimism, more so than anything else,” Rivera told reporters after the first day of camp. That’s what it really is. Everybody comes in with a good feeling, all that stuff, but for us, we’ve got to make sure it’s about the evaluation process and we got to continue to look at what we have and build on it.”
There really is only one evaluation, one question that matters about this team as training camp unfolds. Yes, there is the health of defensive end Chase Young, tight end Logan Thomas, receiver Curtis Samuel and running back Antonio Gibson. There are always health questions in training camp.
But everything revolves around newly-acquired quarterback Carson Wentz, who was driven out of his two previous jobs in Philadelphia and Indianapolis — Rivera’s future, the team’s success, everything. It is the only true question that matters.
There. That’s the football.
You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.