Football Team

Rivera's Coach of the Year campaign goes beyond his record

Football Team

As the regular season comes to an end, there's no denying that Ron Rivera is a part of the NFL Coach of the Year conversation. But, should he win the award?

That could depend on how the voters evaluate what factors make a coach most-deserving. For some, the biggest component could be the record. While Rivera has a chance to get the team to 8-8 and win an NFC East title, it won't stack up with some other candidates such as Kevin Stefanski and Sean McDermott. Both have led their teams to double-digit win totals.

However, former Washington player and NBC Sports Washington analyst Brian Mitchell believes that Rivera's resume goes beyond what the stats show and that needs to be considered.

“I think he should. You know, I think one thing about it, people look at the coach that goes out and wins a lot and all those different things," Mitchell said on NBC Sports Washington's The Huddle. "But you look at what he’s overcome and how this team has already changed. He talked about a culture change, we all know takes years, but it already seems to be happening here."

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To summarize: Rivera's first season in Washington has included a name change, a complete overhaul of the team and workplace cultures, a rotating door at quarterback and ownership legal fights. That's something that isn't easy for anyone to handle, much less someone who just stepped foot into the organization.


Yet, Rivera has led his team through the storm and brought them to the cusp of a playoff appearance that didn't seem plausible until a few weeks ago. That's more than enough for Mitchell to feel comfortable naming Rivera Coach of the Year.

If any more evidence was needed, Rivera also did all this while battling cancer after being diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in late August.

"And the fight through the cancer treatments and things of that nature while doing it, and making his team see a different way of doing things, I think he definitely should be," Mitchell said.

Rivera's battle with cancer is something NBC Sports Washington's Pete Hailey sees as potentially the biggest case for Rivera to win the award. He believes Stefanski will be given the honor by doing the improbable of leading the Browns to the playoffs, but that's because Rivera's ability to overcome adversity may not be fully appreciated.

Even while going through treatment, and sometimes feeling so weak IVs were needed during games, Rivera was always there for his team. That's something that can't be understated.

“While Ron’s record won’t match Stefanski’s, he was dealing with cancer on top of all the other things he had to deal with and was able to keep this team together, never complained, never missed a game, missed only a few practices," Hailey said.

“Just an inspiration to the entire organization, not just the players, but everybody from top to bottom there," Hailey said.

In the end, what Rivera has done for Washington is bigger than any award. While the honor would be special and well-deserved, those who have followed the team -- and those within the franchise -- know that the right man is in charge, and his 2020 journey is truly special.

“Ron has just been a godsend to Washington, award or not," Hailey said.