The Washington Football Teams has restricted access to Tuesday’s camp-opening press conference with coach Ron Rivera. On Monday, Ben Standig of TheAthletic.com got exclusive access to Rivera.
When it comes to the turmoil still roiling in the organization, Rivera has one specific request for the reporters who cover his team, such that his requests should matter for any media members other than those employed directly by the team.
“Ben, it’s guys like you and [other local reporters] that could help us,” Rivera said. “Write all the bad articles now, get all the past out of the way. But as we start going forward, write about where we are and where we’re going. Help push us forward. That’s my message I’m trying to tell everybody.”
It’s not a bad message. But it’s not a message the team gets to control. Except as it relates to the media members the team directly employs.
“I get it,” Rivera said regarding the team’s recent, troubled past. “There are some things that were totally F’d up. OK, but let’s stop telling everybody that everything’s F’d up and start saying to everybody, ‘Hey, look, what they’re trying to do. Look how they’re trying to fix it.'”
Actually, it’s fair to do both. And it’s proper and appropriate for media outlets to decide what they will do and how to cover the team, not for Rivera or anyone else from Washington to directly or indirectly ask reporters how to shape and to approach their coverage.
As Rivera apparently prepares to pivot to not talking about how “F’d up” things were, Rivera is willing to discuss how the team decided to distance itself from dysfunction.
“First and foremost, Mr. Snyder knew he had a problem,” Rivera said. “He made a decision in October of last season and then started researching what he had to do. One of the things that got me excited about this was he researched all these coach-centric teams. Kansas City, New England, New Orleans, Seattle. He said, ‘OK, this is what they do, Coach, and this is what I studied.’ He presented all this to me and showed me the possibilities. And then one of the things that he also found is a lot of coaches that win Super Bowls, there’s a group of them that had good success their first time around, and then when they got fired, the second time around, guess what they did? They won. Belichick, Andy Reid, Pete Carroll, and Tom Coughlin. So, that’s what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping for that kind of opportunity. What better way to do it then, with a group of young players that you’re enthusiastic about?”
Rivera resents the belief by some that he simply made a money grab in taking the Washington job.
“I got a letter from somebody that doesn’t know me that said, ‘You took this for the money.’ I would say bullsh-t. You don’t know me. How can you write that and say that? I get it. People have an opinion. But don’t come at me if you don’t know me because if I really wanted the money, you don’t think I’d have pitted the Giants and Cleveland and Washington and Dallas against each other? No, I was enthusiastic about this job from the beginning. And this is where I am. This is what I think everybody [needs] to understand. I didn’t come here for the money. Ok, I made a lot of money in Carolina. I could have sat the year out, and collected a very good paycheck, played a lot of golf and got my handicap down.”
He’s instead trying to solve a much thornier problem in Washington, turning around a franchise that has been beset by its own ineptitude at every level of the organization for 20-plus years. And who better to do that than a two-time coach of the year who nearly won a Super Bowl?
We look forward to covering the story of Ron Rivera turning around The Washington Football Team. But if, along the way, we have to delve into some of the “F’d up” things of the past, hopefully he’ll understand.