Prior to Washington's Week 4 matchup at FedExField, players and staff donned "Rivera Strong" shirts to honor their head coach, Ron Rivera, who was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma earlier this year.
The gear has since become common apparel for Washington as the team rallies behind Rivera. The motto is meant to demonstrate how everyone is drawing from Rivera's strength and courage during this challenging time. But, to Rivera, it's a symbol of the impact he can have on others who are going through similar situations.
“It’s really about people being supportive, people being behind you and then for me, personally it’s really just trying to set the example as I go through this," Rivera said to the media on Thursday. “It’s just trying to be strong and just show that, hey, this is manageable. This is something that we can beat, we can get past.”
While Rivera is working to be an inspiration for others, it's those people who have greatly touched his heart during his battle with cancer. Though treatment has not been easy, and balancing it with football is even harder, the support that pours in for the head coach each day has helped him continue on.
Beyond the shirts, inspirational messages are being shared with Rivera constantly. To know that so many people are in his corner means the world to him.
“And having folks support you has really been a great thing for me personally, it really has," Rivera said. "I get notes every day and it truly does mean something and it really does lift your spirits.”
At this point, Rivera is nearing the end of his treatment schedule. He noted that he has seven more proton therapy sessions as well as one more chemotherapy cycle. His last day will be Monday, October 26. As the second cycle of treatment comes to an end, Rivera is feeling stronger, but the beginning of the third cycle will once again be a challenge.
Still, with his family, friends and team letting him know just how proud of him they are, he'll continue to embody the "Rivera Strong" mentality throughout.
"So when you see things as an individual, I see those things, it really does help me. I can’t explain why as much as I just know that it’s great to know that there are folks behind and praying for me," Rivera said. "I’m in their thoughts and they’re wishing the best and that’s really cool.”