Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera made a big announcement on Thursday night. The 58-year old revealed to ESPN he has cancer but will continue to coach. Rivera was officially diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in a lymph node. The good news is the cancer is in the early stages and is considered "very treatable and curable," according to Rivera.
"I'm planning to go on coaching," Rivera said to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. "Doctors encouraged me to do it too. They said, 'If you feel strongly, do it. Don't slow down, do your physical activities.' But everyone keeps telling me by week three or four, you'll start feeling it." Squamous cell cancer is a form of skin cancer. It's usually not life-threatening but can cause complications.
Rivera told his players about the diagnosis in a team meeting Thursday evening. Everything will remain the same, but the team has a Plan B in place just in case if Rivera can't work. The details of the plan haven't been revealed, but if someone needs to take over as head coach, Washington has defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who has been a head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders.
Rivera told ESPN he found a lump on his neck in early July. The lump remained on his neck for two weeks, which led to him visiting a doctor. He was told of the cancer two weeks ago and was "stunned." He also said he was "angry because I feel like I'm in the best health I've been in." Rivera has consulted with a number of doctors and is establishing a treatment plan with the team and an outside specialist.
"I've just been angry," he said. "The thing that I find out how many people that have gone through this. Outpatient therapy, proton therapy." As Rivera fights his battle with cancer, he will continue to prepare his team for the 2020 season. Washington began practicing in full pads earlier this week and they will kick off the season on Sept. 13 when they face the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rivera was hired to be Washington's head coach on New Year's Day after spending nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers. During his time in Carolina, Rivera won 76 games and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.