Ron Rivera's 2020 season has featured plenty of challenges on the field, but off the field, he's faced his most intense battle in the form of cancer.
The head coach splits his time between working with his team and working with medical professionals while receiving treatment. It's become clear to Rivera that the latter has made his initial tasks more disruptive. Making time for medical treatment has caused Rivera to miss moments where he can help his team learn and grow.
While that has been an early revelation, the treatment has also opened Rivera's eyes to the issue of medical coverage and funding that the country faces.
"It also speaks to the importance and the value of having good medical funding," Rivera said on Friday. "You really have to have some sort of medical program for folks. To navigate through this is a bear, also.”
Going through the process and seeing the amount of care it takes to help those battling cancer has made Rivera grateful for the help he's received, but also for the financial situation he is.
The cost of the treatment is not light, and proper coverage is needed to ensure that patients can receive all the treatment they need. Rivera understands that and is also aware that not everyone is in the same situation. He's hoping that changes, as health is the main priority.
“It speaks to the value and the need of proper medical for our country,” Rivera said to ESPN's Sal Palantonio on Sunday. “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.”
Rivera's mindset is yet another testament to his character. Despite all the challenges he faces, his main focus has been about continuing to help others. Whether it be his players or others fighting the same fight as him, he just wants to see everyone succeed.
It's the reason he's become a beloved figure inside and out of the NFL community, and why his players are donning "Rivera Strong" apparel prior to games and the team has created a "Coach's Corner" in the stadium.
Being the head coach of a young team while also battling cancer is a big challenge, but no one is better prepared to once again come out on top than Rivera.