NFL Coach Surprised with Heartfelt Show of Support After Missing Practices Due to Cancer Treatment
After a tough week, Ron Rivera arrived at the field to see an entire section of the stands filled with cardboard cutouts of his friends and family members
The Washington Football Team's coach, Ron Rivera, got a heartfelt show of support amid his ongoing battle with skin cancer.
On Sunday, Rivera, 55, was surprised with an entire section of the stands at FedEx Field in Maryland filled with cardboard cutouts of his friends and family members after a tough week battling the disease.
"Someone once told me you don't know about cancer until it touches you," Rivera told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio in a pregame interview. "That's when it touched my brother Mickey. There's nothing like it. When it touches you it's overwhelming. But then you see things like this and people that support you and the notes I got and the letters I got, the notes I got from friends. Tremendous."
Rivera's brother, Mickey, died in 2015 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to USA Today.
Among the 450 cutouts supporting Rivera during Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens were several NFL staff, fellow coaches, as well as former players Greg Olsen, Luke Kuechly and Steve Smith Sr., whom Rivera coached while with the Carolina Panthers.
"It shows that you're not doing this by yourself, that there's a whole bunch of people helping you do this," Rivera said.
In addition to the cutouts, players also wore “Rivera Strong” shirts ahead of the game, which ultimately resulted in a 17-31 loss.
Rivera, who was diagnosed with cancer in August, told ESPN that he was thankfully diagnosed early enough that doctors are optimistic. However, he said the experience has also been incredibly eye-opening in regards to healthcare costs and the need for insurance.
"It speaks to the value and the need of proper medical for our country,” Rivera said. “Going through the things I’m going through and seeing what these things cost, you just hope everybody is protected and covered. You really do.”