When Dan Snyder introduced Ron Rivera as Washington’s new head coach in January, he promised that there would be a new structure of hierarchy within the organization. No longer would a general manager, team president or even Snyder himself wield the most power. Instead, the team would conform to a coach-centric approach with Rivera at the helm.
Six months in, the team still has yet to play a football game. But Rivera’s presence has still been felt, with no indication stronger than Monday’s announcement that not only is the team retiring the name Redskins but the effort to come up with a new one will be led by none other than Snyder and Rivera.
For an organization that’s been around since 1932, the sudden transfer of power for a decision that will have a lasting impact for decades—if not more—to a head coach who hasn’t even held a training camp with the team is at the very least unusual.
ProFootballTalk analyst Mike Florio sat down with NBC Sports Washington’s Redskins Talk podcast crew after the team’s announcement Monday and indicated that this was a move Rivera has been pushed to get involved in since he started in D.C.
“Before the critical mass was reached, I know that there were people from outside the organization who were directly trying to convince Coach Rivera that this name change needed to happen and he needed to be the one to champion it,” Florio said. “I think he was hesitant. Now, he became less hesitant once the walls started to close in from a sponsorship standpoint.
“But when I saw in the statement that Daniel Snyder and Ron Rivera were the ones coming up with the new name, my reaction was—I didn’t realize Ron Rivera was an expert in branding sports teams. I thought he was an expert in coaching sports teams. It really puts him in an awkward spot.”
Prior to joining Washington, Rivera spent nine years as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. He made four playoff appearances including a run to Super Bowl 50 but was fired midway through last season after the Panthers went 12-16 over the previous two years.
Though Florio was questioning Rivera’s position rather than the coach himself, he said in the interview that will be included in an upcoming episode of the Redskins Talk podcast he hopes Snyder and Rivera still consult experts when weighing options for the team’s name.
“I just don’t think that the owner of the team and the coach of the team should be at the center of it and I hope that they do have a broader base of expertise that they’re relying upon to come up with a name that will be sustainable,” Florio said.
Regardless of who has the final say, Florio emphasized that the organization has significant weight on its shoulders to pick a name that gets fans excited about the team after years of mediocrity.
“Look, this is a moment to inspire the fanbase,” Florio said. “This is a moment to re-energize the franchise. If you pick the right name here, that’s the thing that can…maybe lay the foundation for the kind of excitement that makes fans feel good about the team again.
“They need something like this to get the fans excited, to get the team to a point where it feels like it’s relevant again in the NFL because that’s one of the truths of the last 20 years. This team has not been relevant very often on Dan Snyder’s watch.”
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