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EVER WONDER: How John Madden helped turn Ron Rivera into Riverboat Ron

EVER WONDER: How John Madden helped turn Ron Rivera into Riverboat Ron

John Madden’s influence on professional football can hardly be measured. He won a Super Bowl with the Raiders in 1977 but for multiple generations he’s the name behind perhaps the most influential sports video game in the world.

For Redskins fans, however, Madden might mean something way more important.

After two decades of struggles and a disastrous 3-13 campaign in 2019, the Redskins hired Ron Rivera in January. The former Panthers coach has one of the best reputations in the NFL, and a helluva nickname in Riverboat Ron. 

The nickname has quite a backstory (see the video above) but it's not without merit. When Rivera first took over as head coach with the Panthers, his teams fought hard, but often came up short. 

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After meeting with Madden and reviewing game tape, Rivera decided to press the gas. The story is pretty incredible. 

"It was 4th and 1 and we kicked a field goal, he said. And I said it put us up by six. But then they came down, scored a touchdown. kicked the extra point and beat us what could you have done differently? He says, Well, I could have gone for it on fourth down. He said absolutely! So you’ve played enough football, you’ve got a good football team. Go with your gut instinct. I said, well, I was just going going by the book. He looked at me, said Ron, what book? So there’s a whole book about making those types of decisions, those decisions are made by guys that have experience and understand the
game. The guys played the game because of coached the game just like you have. Use your gut experience. Use your intuition. You have enough of it. You know how to do it. And so I’ve kind of kept that mentality going into my third season and got into a couple of fourth down situations and said, you know what, if we can do it here, man, we can keep it rolling. And essentially, because when I did it for the first time with our offense and we converted, they came to the sideline and a bunch of em said man, thanks for believing in us, coach. And the realization that, OK, I got it. I got it."

As his profile grew across the NFL during his tenure with the Panthers, Rivera’s charitable work gained more and more coverage. That’s when the Riverboat Ron nickname came to matter most, and the best part was Rivera's daughter came up with the idea. 

"Everything that we do with this, we do it for charity with the proceeds going to a specific charity, whether it be the USO, the Veterans Bridge homes in Charlotte, the Humane Society or the Ronald McDonald House. We really try to take care of it, but we also try to use it for it for for good."

At multiple points this offseason the new Redskins boss has talked about how he’s better prepared to build his team, his staff and his organization the second time around. Much of his success the first time around came after meeting with Madden, and learning to be more aggressive when the situation calls for it.

The second time around?

Rivera is already Riverboat Ron.

Who knows what happens next. 

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Ex-Washington GM believes Dan Snyder will use name change as a 'chip' to build stadium bigger than Cowboys'

Ex-Washington GM believes Dan Snyder will use name change as a 'chip' to build stadium bigger than Cowboys'

After receiving immense public pressure from major sponsors earlier this month, Washington announced in a statement on Monday that the team would retire the name 'Redskins' and its logo. The change was likely not one owner Dan Snyder wanted to make, as he stated in 2013 that the team would "never" change its name.

However, former Washington GM Vinny Cerrato believes there might have been another reason Snyder agreed to finally move on from the name.

In an interview on ESPN's 'Golic and Wingo,' Cerrato explained that he believes Snyder will try and use the name change as a "chip" to eventually build a new stadium in Washington, D.C., one "bigger and better" than his good friend Jerry Jones' 100,000-seater in Dallas.

"Ever since Jerry [Jones] built his stadium...we're playing the Cowboys, and we flew down and had dinner in Jerry's box," Cerrato said. "Jerry gave us a tour of the stadium, he's pushing the button opening and closing the roof. Ever since then, [Snyder said] 'I'm going to have one bigger and better.'"

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Cerrato said that now that the name has been retired, Snyder will be able to turn his dream stadium into a reality.

"Trust me when I tell you this, Dan will have one bigger and better," Cerrato said. "He'll use it as a chip to get that land where RFK was, to change the name. I would bet that it's somewhere involved in there. The name change is also probably helping him get the property he really wants."

RELATED: THEISMANN HOPES WASHINGTON CAN BE AN EXAMPLE OF ACTING ON SOCIAL CHANGE

Prior to the name change, it's been no secret that the owner wants a new stadium, specifically one in downtown Washington at the team's old RFK site. However, the process of building a new stadium may not be so easy.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in June that she believes the name must be changed and that the team won't be allowed to build a new stadium in D.C. until that happens. Even after Washington's statement earlier this week, Mayor Bowser said there are still plenty of hurdles that remain for Washington to build a new stadium at the old RFK location.

Washington's current lease as FedEx Field in Landover, Md., is set to expire at the end of the 2027 season.

Only time will tell if the name change ends up helping Snyder build his "bigger and better" stadium in D.C. Despite that, Cerrato believes the owner will look back on the name change and wonder why he took so long to make it.

"For where we are at in society, I think it was an absolute that needed to be done. I think he realized that," Cerrato said. "His business partners, Dwight [Schar], Rob Rothman and Fred Smith, they tried to push upon on him recently. So I think it was something that needed to be done. In five years when Dan thinks back about it, he'll probably think 'Why did I wait so long?"

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Joe Theismann hopes Washington can serve as example of taking action on social change

Joe Theismann hopes Washington can serve as example of taking action on social change

Following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, the fight for social justice and racial equality has been at the forefront of issues in the United States.

The current social justice movement in America has impacted Washington's NFL team, as the organization announced on Monday it would retire the name 'Redskins' -- a slur that some Native Americans find offensive and racist -- and the team's logo. The change -- something Washington owner Dan Snyder said he would "never" do in 2013 -- is felt to be overdue by many.

Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann hopes that the team's eventual name change can be used as an opportunity for the organization to serve as an example by taking action for social change.

"I think that what we've proven with the new name of the Washington football franchise is that we need people to take action on the things that they want to get done," Theismann told ABC7's Scott Abraham.

"There's so many things socially that people talk about doing... but we're not really getting the results. In this case, I hope the Washington name and the change that's taking place can be an example to people."

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Additionally, the Super Bowl-winning QB explained that he wants those upset by the change to understand that things don't say the same. Sometimes, change is necessary.

"Things are always changing in one place, in one way or another," Theismann said. "We're experiencing this now through the pandemic and all the things that are happening socially around the country and really around the world. And I think what we have to do is listen, open our hearts, open our minds to what's going on."

Asked if he was upset or angry by the change, Theismann said that he doesn't have any regrets personally with the franchise.

"I don't have any regrets... I was very proud to put on that uniform and represent, what I felt like were the Native Americans," Theismann said. "As a matter of fact, in 1982 when we won the World Championship, I was given a chief's headdress by one of the tribal individuals. And it's a cherished item."

Plus, the quarterback also stated he would continue to wear his 'Redskins' gear, saying  he will "explain to people, to me it represented a proud tradition of the people that I spoke to who were Native Americans."

RELATED: FORMER WASHINGTON KICKER MARK MOSELEY UPSET BY NAME CHANGE

However, Theismann made sure to emphasize he is fully embracing the change and the current social movement.

"I think it's a time to get excited," Theismann said. "Let's embrace what's here in front of us, let's embrace this young group of guys."

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