At or very close to one o'clock this Sunday, a kicker from either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Washington Football Team will kick a football to a returner from the other side. That returner will then do something with the previously-mentioned kick (or watch it sail over his head, which is becoming routine), and the 2020 NFL season will be underway for both organizations.

Just as that occurs, a single word will be running through Ron Rivera's head, and he told that word to reporters Wednesday on Zoom. It made him very relatable.

“Finally," he said. "I promise you that will be my first thought when that ball gets kicked." 

"To me, when that happens, that’s going to signal some normalcy in our lives and in my life, for sure," he added.

At the pandemic's lowest points, it felt quite possible that the NFL wouldn't be able to carry on when September arrived.

Now, it's clear the league will be starting up and very much intends to finish up, too. For all fans, as Rivera mentioned, that's going to be huge.

Rivera himself, though, hasn't just had to deal with the stress of coronavirus. That's only one piece of his very crowded, complicated offseason. 

Beyond COVID-19, there was also the stress of dealing with the franchise's name change, the stress of having to answer questions in the fallout of multiple Washington Post stories focused on the team's culture, and, most importantly, the stress of his cancer diagnosis. 

 

Once you combine all that, it isn't a stretch to imagine that Rivera might be the most relieved person in the sport that opening weekend is, at last, here.

Yes, he's maintained all along that he's been absolutely fine handling all that's come his way, but his honest Wednesday response hinted at how ready he is to do his actual job of, you know, coaching on the sidelines. 

As for what a victory against the Eagles would mean, there was no downplaying it on Rivera's end. 

"I think it’s one of those things that you can build momentum off of," he said. "The thing that we have to do is understand that this is the measuring stick. You want to win your division, you’ve got to beat teams like this."

There's no doubting Rivera wants to be a winner by the conclusion of Sunday's contest at FedEx Field. Just reaching that stage, however, after what he's personally experienced? That's a win on its own.