WFT rallied around Ron Rivera during year of COVID-19 pandemic


Editor's note: This week marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily stopped, and in some ways permanently changed, sports in North America. This is one part of a content series running on

In the scope of the destruction caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, it's almost inappropriate to consider the impact of the virus on the Washington Football Team.

Still, like every other corner of the planet, Covid changed things dramatically in Washington. 

While for months it seemed like the NFL would never actually pull off a successful 2020 season, the league pushed forward, and despite some hiccups and outbreaks, it went all the way through to a Super Bowl.

Washington performed admirably during 2020, never having an active player testing positive during the 16-game season. 

Much of that likely stemmed from admiration and respect for Ron Rivera.

The Washington head coach fought his own battle last season, dealing with cancer in his throat that forced him to chemotherapy and proton treatments. Health experts made clear that people with compromised immune systems needed particular caution as the virus circulated the globe, and Rivera certainly qualified in that category.  

The Washington Football Team players and coaches responded to that, and just as Rivera continued to gut out coaching during his cancer fight, the team did not slip up and allow for the types of situations that could cause Covid outbreaks. 


Well, almost the whole team. 

As inspiring as the story of Rivera's fight against cancer and the team's commitment against Covid was, the disappointing end to former first-round pick QB Dwayne Haskins' tenure in Washington was equal parts bizarre and dumb. 

Late in the 2020 season with Washington, firmly entrenched in an NFC East title run, and with Covid infections at new highs across the country due to winter weather and holiday gatherings, Haskins decided to go to a party. Pictures emerged on social media that showed Haskins not wearing a mask at the party. His fellow partygoers were equally mask-less.

Immediately Rivera stripped Haskins of his captaincy, and about a week later, he was released from the team. 

It was an ugly end to the Haskins era in Washington, and the only real mistake the team made in a season-long battle against Covid. 

The 2021 season will still feel impacts from Covid, but as vaccinations rise across the country, it won't be the same as 2020. 

Washington did well - for themselves and for their coach. In a tough season with encouraging results, that is a valuable takeaway.