Washington Head Coach Ron Rivera Diagnosed with Squamous Cell Cancer of the Neck

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera listens to a question during a news conference at the team's NFL football training facility, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera has been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the neck, the coach told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday.

Rivera said the cancer—which was diagnosed two weeks ago—is in its early stages and considered "very treatable and curable." 

Schefter passed along more information from Rivera:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Rivera wants to pass along his gratitude to team doctors, trainers and health-care specialists for helping him through treatments. He also wants to thank the Snyders, the entire Washington organization, his assistant coaches, players, fans, friends and family for love and support https://t.co/EhzhtG3lIv

Rivera shared the news with his team on Thursday night.

"Some were stunned," he said, per Schefter. "A bunch came up and wished me well. I said, 'I'm going to be a little more cranky, so don't piss me off.'"

Rivera is heading into his first season as Washington's coach after being hired for the job in January. He plans to coach this season despite the diagnosis.

"I'm planning to go on coaching," Rivera said, per 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."

Rivera did tell Schefter the team also has a backup plan in case he is unable to continue coaching.

Rivera has already made a significant impact on the franchise, helping push for the eventual mascot name change. The team announced in July the coach will have a role in helping decide the new team name. 

The 58-year-old had spent the previous nine years with the Carolina Panthers, leading the squad to a 76-63-1 record. He led the team to the Super Bowl after going 15-1 during the 2015 season and had four playoff appearances in his first seven seasons with Carolina.

Rivera has more than two decades of experience in the NFL, spending time with four different organizations before joining Washington this year.

He was also the only person from an underrepresented group among the five head coaches hired this offseason.