Football Team

Why Rivera picked Washington over the Giants, reunion with Gettleman

Football Team

When Ron Rivera was fired by the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 3, 2019, after serving as the team's head coach for nine years, he knew it would only be a matter of weeks before teams would be vying for his services.

One club that seemed to be a logical fit for Rivera was the New York Giants, due to the head coach's relationship with general manager Dave Gettleman. Rivera and Gettleman worked together for multiple years in Carolina and all four of the Panthers' playoff appearances this past decade came with the two of them in charge.

However, just two days after the Giants fired head coach Pat Shurmur at the end of the 2019 season, Rivera was announced as the head coach of the Washington Football Team.

This coming Sunday, Rivera's team is set to face the Giants for the first time since he took over as Washington's head coach. On a phone call with New York media on Wednesday, Rivera was asked why he accepted the job in D.C. before even taking a visit with the Giants.

"Well, first of all, I was thoroughly recruited to come here and actually spent a lot of time and got a lot of opportunities to look at this team and just felt pretty comfortable," Rivera said.

That wasn't the end of Rivera's answer, though.

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"It was never really about the money, I think it was more about the challenge," Rivera continued. "For whatever reason, I like the challenge and it’s been a challenge, to be honest with you." 

 

The "challenge" is something Rivera mentioned during his introductory presser with Washington in January. Rivera knew head coaching opportunities don't come easily in the NFL, let alone second chances. The opportunity to be the face of a rebuild -- while having more organizational control than he ever had in Carolina -- was an offer too enticing for Rivera to turn down.

It's also worth noting that agreeing to become Washington's next coach was not a spontaneous decision for Rivera. The 58-year-old had been in communication with Washington owner Dan Snyder for weeks -- the team had that luxury by already firing Jay Gruden -- and even consulted legendary Washington coach Joe Gibbs before agreeing to take the job.

Despite not taking the reins in New York, Rivera did say he has maintained a solid relationship with Gettleman.

"My relationship with Dave Gettleman is good, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Rivera said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for who he is as a general manager, but more importantly who he is as a man. I really do mean that, too, because he’s really a part of the reason I’ve had success as a head coach."

So, while Giants fans did not get to experience Carolina 2.0 in the Big Apple, expect nothing but respect between the two of them come Sunday.