Rivera discusses cancer diagnosis, treatment plans


Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera said Friday will undergo cancer treatment five times a week for the next seven weeks.

Rivera, speaking for the first time since he revealed he had been diagnosed with Squamous cell cancer located in a lymph node, said it is a "very treatable and very curable" form of cancer. He still plans on fulfilling his duties as head coach while receiving 35 treatments over the next two months.

"What's gonna be the tough part, most certainly, will be just trying to managing time," Rivera told Julie Donaldson.

"I hope to be able to do these treatments and not have them interfere with football. It's been recommended that I continue to work; work at a good pace, a smart pace, listen to what the doctors tell me, follow the protocols."

"Hopefully, with the way we have it mapped out, it won't be in the way."

Rivera said the diagnosis was the result of him noticing a lump in his neck while he was shaving. When asked by Donaldson about how he was feeling now, Rivera said "a little bit angry."

"You know, honestly, I'm a little bit angry. You know, I'm not quite sure how this happened, this is the healthiest I've felt in a long, long time in all honesty," he said. "I've lost some weight, I've been working out doing things the right way, had a great summer."

Rivera said he felt like he had really gotten into a good place and has had no issues during the team's practices. "So I was really disappointed and surprised, concerned, scared at times, but, truthfully, I feel good and I'm really looking forward to getting into the therapies and following the protocols and getting this taken care of."

Rivera decided to tell his players Thursday because he wanted to give them time to digest the news during Friday's off day.

"It has gone through my mind over and over again how I was gonna do it," he said. "I had a meeting with the players before we went to workout (Thursday) and I kinda left them with a little bit of a message: 'You can get everything taken away from you but one thing and that's your right to choose, choose how you can approach things in your life. They can't take away your opportunity to choose your attitude."

And after informing them of his diagnosis Rivera told his team: "I said, 'Look, I still control my attitude. I control my outlook the way I'm going to approach this.'"

"I think it helped them, I think it helped me more so than anything else."

Rivera said he has felt tremendous support from his players after that conversation, his fellow coaches, and owner Dan Snyder, who he said told him "whatever you want to do for your health's sake, do it."

If Rivera has to step aside during the season, the team has a Plan B and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would be the person who assumes the head coaching duties in his absence.

Rivera said his doctors have told him about the importance of working, but they did say there may be times when he has to step aside for "a day or two or a week or two."

Rivera said this will put a bit of the onus on the players to step up, as well.

"As a coach you hope the players buy-in and take ownership of circumstances, this might be a great test to find out exactly where we are in this process of developing this football team," he said. "Are these guys ready to step up and take ownership on something?"