As Ron Rivera stepped out to FedExField on Sunday, he was treated to an emotional and incredible surprise.
Waiting for him in the stands were 400 cutouts of family, friends, colleagues and former players known as the "Coach's Corner." From Rivera's wife Stephanie to Andy Reid to his dogs, all the cutouts were there to support Rivera in his battle with cancer and raise over $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. Players also wore "Rivera Strong" shirts ahead of the game.
One face in the crowd stood out in particular to the head coach. Among all his peers, friends and family sat the cutout of his late brother, Mickey Rivera.
Ron Rivera's "first and best teammate" passed away in 2015 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Seeing him among all of the support was a moment that struck Rivera.
"It was very poignant at one point, my brother had passed away, they had his picture in the collage," Rivera said following the game. That was really cool. That meant a lot to me It was poignant, thank you. Thank you, guys.”
Rivera has explained in the past that his brother exemplified the idea of selflessness and making "a total commitment." It's something the head coach has preached to his players in the past.
Now in his own battle with cancer, Rivera is working to have that same type of commitment, even as it comes with challenges.
His new normal has not been easy. The treatment has disrupted his ability to focus on his players at times, and the care has made him grateful for the help of others but also understanding that not everyone is fortunate enough to be provided with medical coverage. During games on the sidelines, there are moments where Rivera has to push through despite not being close to 100%.
Still, time and time again, he shows up ready to work and help others succeed. Despite the daily challenges he is faced with, Rivera continues to work. He's not just doing it for himself, but for others who are -- or have been -- in the same situation as him.
The "Coach's Corner" was more than just a touching tribute, as it was a reminder of what he is fighting for each day.
"It's a struggle, it's a battle. I don't just represent me, I represent all of those folks, all those people that fight and have fought. I just feel honored," Rivera said. "It was really cool to come out early and see the tribute.