Ron Rivera revealed his squamous cell cancer diagnosis to his team Thursday. On Saturday, the Washington coach expounded on what trying to coach while undergoing treatment will entail this season.
“I’m not being rosy about this,” Rivera said in his first meeting with beat writers since news surfaced of his diagnosis, via John Keim of ESPN. “I’m being honest. I know I’m going to struggle, so on days I do, I ask the coaches to step up and the players to step up and take ownership. I understand the significance of what I’m going through, and I understand how tough it’s going to be. Those days I can be on the field, I will be on the field. If I’m there, we’ll be business as usual. If not, Plan B. I don’t expect that to happen. I hope it doesn’t happen. I hope I can make every practice. The prognosis is good, so I’m fairly confident. I can’t wait to get started and get it over with.”
Rivera, 58, wouldn’t divulge whether he will require surgery. He will undergo five treatments a week — a combination of chemotherapy and proton therapy — for seven weeks.
“That’s one thing the doctors talk about, when you can work focus on that because it distracts from other things going on,” Rivera said. “A lot of times that helps people get through situations and circumstances.
“For me, it’s another challenge, a challenge I accept. I’ve got to continue to be the person I am and be disciplined about it. More importantly, the doctor said at some point you have to be selfish and take care of you.”
Rivera confirmed Jack Del Rio, who has 12 years of NFL head coaching experience, is the team’s Plan B if Rivera ever is too fatigued or otherwise can’t coach. Del Rio served as the interim coach in Denver seven years ago when John Fox missed four weeks with a heart issue.