Ron Rivera

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Ron Rivera
Color head-and-torso photograph of Ron Rivera wearing a hat before a football game.
Rivera during his tenure as Panthers head coach, 2016
Washington Football Team
Position:Head coach
Personal information
Born: (1962-01-07) January 7, 1962 (age 58)
Fort Ord, California
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school:Seaside (CA)
College:California
NFL Draft:1984 / Round: 2 / Pick: 44
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As player
As coach
Career NFL statistics
Quarterback sacks:7.5
Interceptions:9
Fumble recoveries:6
Touchdowns:1
Player stats at NFL.com
Head coaching record
Regular season:76–63–1 (.546)
Postseason:3–4 (.429)
Career:79–67–1 (.541)
Player stats at PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Ronald Eugene Rivera (born January 7, 1962), nicknamed Riverboat Ron, is an American football head coach of the National Football League (NFL). Before becoming a coach, Rivera played college football at the University of California, Berkeley in the early 1980s, where he was recognized as an All-American linebacker for the Golden Bears. Following graduation, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft and was a part of their 1985 team that won Super Bowl XX. He spent nine years playing for them before retiring after the 1992 season.

Rivera's coaching career began in 1997 when he served as a quality control coach for the Bears. He then joined the Philadelphia Eagles as a linebackers coach in 1999 before rejoining the Bears to become their defensive coordinator in 2004. Under him, the Bears made an appearance in Super Bowl XLI. In 2007, he joined the San Diego Chargers as a linebackers coach before serving as their defensive coordinator for the next three seasons.

In 2011, Rivera became the head coach for the Carolina Panthers. With them, he was recognized as the NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015 and lead the team to an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Despite being their all-time leader in coaching wins, Rivera was fired midway through the 2019 season due to new ownership wanting a change. In 2020, he became the head coach of the Washington Football Team, then known as the Redskins.

Early years[edit]

Ronald Eugene Rivera was born in Fort Ord, California on January 7, 1962.[1][2] His father, Eugenio Rivera, was a Puerto Rican commissioned officer in the U.S. Army stationed in California. There Eugenio met his future wife, Dolores, who is of Mexican descent.[3] The family moved often due to his father's military service, with Rivera being educated in military bases in Germany, Panama, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.[2][4] The family eventually settled in Marina, California, where he attended Seaside High School and began playing football before graduating in 1980.[5]

Career[edit]

Playing[edit]

Cal Golden Bears (NCAA)[edit]

Rivera was granted a football scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley, leading the Golden Bears in tackles as a linebacker during his three years there. For his final season in 1983, Rivera received several awards and honors for his performance, including being named a consensus All-American, Pac-10 Football Defensive Player of the Year along with Arizona linebacker Ricky Hunley, the Pop Warner Trophy, and being named MVP of the East–West Shrine Game.[6][7] Rivera finished his career as the school's all-time leader at the time in sacks with 22 and tackles with 336.[8] He also once held the school's single-season record for sacks with 13, and tackles for loss with 26.5.[8]

Chicago Bears (NFL)[edit]

Rivera was selected in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, playing for them as a rotational linebacker and special teamer. In 1985, Rivera became the first American of Puerto Rican descent to win a Super Bowl, as the Bears defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. He was named the team's Man of the Year in 1988, and was named their Ed Block Courage Award recipient the following year.[8] He played nine seasons for them before retiring after the 1992 season, playing in 149 games with 62 starts, 392 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 9 interceptions.[8][9]

Coaching[edit]

In 1993, Rivera went to work for WGN-TV and SportsChannel Chicago as a television analyst covering the Bears and college football. In 1997, he joined the Bears as a defensive quality control coach.[10][11]

Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

In 1999, Rivera was named linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles under newly hired head coach Andy Reid.[10] During his tenure, the Eagles advanced to the NFC championship for three consecutive seasons. He also was credited with developing linebacker Jeremiah Trotter into a two-time Pro Bowler.[12]

Chicago Bears[edit]

On January 23, 2004, Rivera was named defensive coordinator of the Bears.[10] In 2005, the Bears defense was rated second in the league by total yardage, with the team winning the NFC North division with a record of 11-5 before losing in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Carolina Panthers. For his efforts that year, Rivera was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association.[13] In 2006, the Bears had the league's third-ranked defense in terms of points allowed, which helped them advance to Super Bowl XLI. Although the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts 29-17,[14] the defense's success earned Rivera recognition among franchises looking for new head coaches. In February 2007, it was announced that Rivera's contract with the Bears would not be extended due to failed negotiations.[15] Around the same time, he interviewed for several vacant head coaching positions around the league, including with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.[16][17][18]

San Diego Chargers[edit]

Rivera was hired by the San Diego Chargers to become their inside linebackers coach in February 2007.[19] In October 2008, Rivera was promoted to defensive coordinator after the team fired Ted Cottrell.[20]

Carolina Panthers[edit]

On January 11, 2011, Rivera was hired to become the fourth head coach of the Carolina Panthers. He was the third Latino in NFL history to become a head coach, following Tom Fears and Tom Flores.[21] During his first year, the Panthers went 6–10 and finished third in the division.[21] In 2012, the Panthers finished 7–9 and finished second in the division. Over his first two years with the Panthers, Rivera was known for his conservative decision-making, with journalists his record of 2–14 record in games decided by less than a touchdown. Following an 1-3 start to the 2013 season, reports suggested that the Panthers were already contemplating getting a new head coach. As a result, Rivera began to make more aggressive decisions.[22] The Panthers then went 11–1 to finish the season, including a then-franchise record eight-game winning streak, to win the NFC South division and make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. For his efforts, Rivera was honored as the 2013 AP NFL Coach of the Year.[23]

In 2014, the Panthers recovered from a 3–8–1 start to win its final four regular-season games and clinch the NFC South for the second consecutive year. The Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27–16 in the NFC Wild Card playoff game for the team's first playoff win since 2005 before falling to the eventual NFC champion Seattle Seahawks the following week. The team's momentum would continue in 2015, as the Panthers produced their best season in franchise history by finishing 15–1, with their only loss being versus the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. The team held the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, where they defeated the Seahawks in the divisional round and the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game,[24] advancing to Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos.[25] Although the Panthers would lose it 24-10,[26] Rivera was recognized as the 2015 AP NFL Coach of the Year, his second such honor.[27]

Rivera signed a two-year contract extension worth US$15.5 million in January 2018.[28] On December 3, 2019, after a 5–7 start to the season, Rivera was fired after nine seasons as head coach.[29] Owner David Tepper, who bought the team in 2018, made the decision to move on from him as he wanted to build his own approach for the team.[30] Rivera finished his career with the Panthers with four playoff appearances and a total record of 79–67–1, both of which rank first all-time in team history.[31][32]

Washington Football Team[edit]

On January 1, 2020, Rivera was hired to become the 30th head coach of the Washington Football Team, known as the Redskins at his time of hiring.[33][34] At his introductory press conference, Rivera stated that he was convinced that the team was the right fit for him after having meetings with Washington owner Daniel Snyder and former head coach Joe Gibbs, which started almost immediately after he was fired from the Panthers.[35][36] Rivera hired several former assistant coaches that worked under him with the Panthers,[37] assigning Scott Turner, the son of Norv Turner, as offensive coordinator and former Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio as defensive coordinator.[38][39]

His first season with the team was met with a number of challenges and tasks, including implementing a new culture, assisting the process of changing the team's Redskins name, and generally dealing with a vastly altered season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[40]

Head coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CAR 2011 6 10 0 .375 3rd in NFC South
CAR 2012 7 9 0 .438 2nd in NFC South
CAR 2013 12 4 0 .750 1st in NFC South 0 1 .000 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Divisional Game
CAR 2014 7 8 1 .469 1st in NFC South 1 1 .500 Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Divisional Game
CAR 2015 15 1 0 .938 1st in NFC South 2 1 .667 Lost to Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50
CAR 2016 6 10 0 .375 4th in NFC South
CAR 2017 11 5 0 .688 2nd in NFC South 0 1 .000 Lost to New Orleans Saints in NFC Wild Card Game
CAR 2018 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC South
CAR 2019 5 7 0 .417 (Fired)
CAR total 76 63 1 .546 3 4 .429
WAS 2020 0 0 0
WAS total 0 0 0 0 0
Total 76 63 1 .546 3 4 .429

Personal life[edit]

Rivera is a Roman Catholic[4] and has three brothers, Steven, Michael, and John.[41] Michael, nicknamed Mickey, died from pancreatic cancer in July 2015.[42] Rivera is married to Stephanie (née Tamayo), who he met while at Cal in August 1983 before marrying her after being drafted in 1984.[10][43] Stephanie, a Filipino American, was a point guard for the Golden Bears women's basketball team and later served as a coach for the sport, most notably as an assistant for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA in 2000.[44][45] The couple have two children together, Christopher and Courtney.[46]

While growing up, Rivera's idol was Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to victims of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake.[4] Rivera was inducted into the California Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.[7] On January 5, 2015, Rivera's home in Charlotte, North Carolina caught fire and was partially damaged, but he and his family escaped without injury.[47] Following his hiring as Redskins head coach in 2020, Rivera held a charity yard sale at his Charlotte home, with various Panthers apparel and merchandise up for sale that raised more than US$30,000 for the humane society of Charlotte.[48]

Rivera's nickname, "Riverboat Ron", was given to him by fans and the media after he took several risky decisions, something previously not attributed to him, during the early part of the 2013 season with the Panthers.[49][50] The name was inspired after 19th century frontier gamblers, with Rivera later embracing it for use on his social media profiles.[51] He was also known as "Chico" during his playing time with the Chicago Bears, a common practice that the team had under head coach Mike Ditka.[52] He received the nickname from defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who reminded him of actor Freddie Prinze from the television series Chico and the Man.[53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Friedman, Ian A. (2007). Latino Athletes. Facts On File. p. 195. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Devine, John. "Marina's Ron Rivera: Growing up to be a Super Bowl coach". Monterey Herald. Archived from the original on January 3, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  3. ^ Kroichick, Ron. "Ron Rivera's footprints trace to Northern California". SF Gate. Archived from the original on January 1, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Yasinskas, Pat. "Rivera embraces role as pioneer". ESPN. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  5. ^ Devine, John. "NFL: Seaside's Ron Rivera ready for next chapter in coaching career". Monterey Herald. Archived from the original on December 5, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  6. ^ Faraudo, Jeff. "Cal Football: Ron Rivera Fired as Carolina Panthers Coach After 9 Seasons". SI.com. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Ron Rivera - California Athletics Hall of Fame". CalBears.com. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d "Ron Rivera". Redskins.com. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  9. ^ Mayer, Larry (January 12, 2014). "Rivera, Harbaugh to clash in playoffs". Chicago Bears. Archived from the original on January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d Janes, Théoden. "Is she the secret to Panthers coach Ron Rivera's success?". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  11. ^ Selby, Zach. "Ron Rivera Becomes 29th Head Coach In Redskins History". Redskins.com. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Greger, Mike. "Donovan McNabb Predicts Landing Spot for Ron Rivera". Heavy.com. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  13. ^ "Assistant Coach of the Year". profootballwriters.org. Archived from the original on June 30, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  14. ^ Biersdorfer, Tom. "Super Bowl XLI: Peyton Manning gets ring in Colts 29-17 win over Bears". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on January 4, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  15. ^ Pasquarelli, Len. "Chicago not retaining D-coordinator Rivera". ESPN. Archived from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  16. ^ Bouchette, Ed; Dulac, Gerry. "The Steelers Coaching Search: It's Tomlin". Archived from the original on October 16, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  17. ^ "Brown: Is Rivera worth the wait? – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". Pittsburghlive.com. January 19, 2007. Archived from the original on March 2, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  18. ^ Archer, Todd (February 9, 2007). "Wade Phillips Hired as Dallas Cowboys Head Coach". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Clayton, John (February 20, 2007). "Rivera joins the Chargers as linebackers coach". ESPN. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  20. ^ "Chargers fire Cottrell, name Rivera new defensive coordinator". ESPN. October 28, 2008. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  21. ^ a b "Ron Rivera hired as Panthers' coach". ESPN. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  22. ^ Pompei, Dan (December 6, 2013). "The Making of Riverboat Ron". Sports on Earth. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  23. ^ Wesseling, Chris. "Carolina Panthers' Ron Rivera wins Coach of the Year". NFL.com. Archived from the original on December 23, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  24. ^ Kilgore, Adam. "Panthers rout Cardinals in NFC title game". Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  25. ^ Biggs, Brad. "Ron Rivera comes home for Super Bowl 50 having done it his way". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  26. ^ Martin, Jill. "Super Bowl 2016: Broncos' defense dominates as Peyton Manning wins second title". CNN. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
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  28. ^ "Panthers sign Rivera to two-year contract extension". NFL.com. Archived from the original on January 7, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  29. ^ "Carolina Panthers fire head coach Ron Rivera". December 3, 2019. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  30. ^ "David Tepper explains why he decided to part ways with head coach Ron Rivera". Panthers.com. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  31. ^ Marks, Brendan (October 6, 2019). "'I'm just very fortunate.' Emotional Ron Rivera becomes winningest coach in team history". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019.
  32. ^ Ahearn, Cale. "Redskins hire Ron Rivera". fox43.com. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  33. ^ Keim, John. "Redskins officially name Ron Rivera coach, make Jack Del Rio DC". ESPN. Archived from the original on January 1, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  34. ^ Selby, Zach. "Ron Rivera Becomes 30th Head Coach In Redskins History". Redskins.com. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  35. ^ Allen, Scott (January 2, 2020). "Redskins introduce Ron Rivera as head coach, promising a culture change". Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  36. ^ DiMargo, Carissa. "'Win a Super Bowl': Redskins New Head Coach Ron Rivera Talks Goals". NBC Sports Washington. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  37. ^ Carpenter, Les; Maske, Mark; Copeland, Kareem. "Ron Rivera is building his Redskins coaching staff, but the front office may take longer". Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 6, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  38. ^ Keim, John. "Redskins give OC job to Scott Turner, son of team's ex-coach". ESPN. Archived from the original on January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  39. ^ Carpenter, Les. "Jack Del Rio to become Redskins defensive coordinator, will switch to a 4-3 scheme". Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 1, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  40. ^ Keim, John. "Ron Rivera's daunting task: Fix Washington's woes on, off field". ESPN. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  41. ^ Fowler, Scott. "Brotherly love: Ron Rivera opens up about what his older brother meant to him". Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on February 20, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  42. ^ Newton, Michael (July 28, 2015). "Ron Rivera could miss start of Panthers camp after brother's death". ESPN. Archived from the original on July 30, 2015. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  43. ^ Haugh, David. "Coach behind Panthers coach is Ron Rivera's wife Stephanie". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  44. ^ Yasinskas, Pat. "Rivera embraces role as pioneer". espn.com. ESPN. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  45. ^ Lee, Albert. "Stephanie Rivera, wife of Ron Rivera, was a Mystics assistant coach in 2000". BulletsForever.com. SB Nation. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  46. ^ Daniel, P.K. (July 13, 2010). "There's more than one Rivera calling the shots". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on February 13, 2016. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  47. ^ EndPlay (January 5, 2015). "Fire causes $500K damage at Panthers' coach Ron Rivera's home". Archived from the original on January 8, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  48. ^ Newton, David. "Ron Rivera's yard sale of Panthers items raises over $30K for charity". ESPN. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  49. ^ Newton, David (October 15, 2013). "Rivera calculated, not a Riverboat gambler". ESPN. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  50. ^ Newton, David (November 14, 2013). "'Riverboat Ron' name catching on". ESPN. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  51. ^ Stackpole, Kyle. "Five Things To Know About New Redskins Head Coach Ron Rivera". Redskins.com. Archived from the original on January 1, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  52. ^ Sakamoto, Bob (September 9, 1990). "NICKNAMES? BEARS HAVE A BUNCH". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  53. ^ Selby, Zach (March 3, 2020). "The Player That Made Ron Rivera". Redskins.com. Retrieved March 3, 2020.

External links[edit]