OK, now that it looks like we’re approaching another new administration in Washington Redskins history, can we move forward and make a New Year’s resolution to try to change all our negative vibes into positive thoughts of a winning culture?
I know everyone still focuses on the words of departed team president Bruce Allen, who called the team’s culture “damn good” in the middle of a 3-13 season; however, that’s all in the past. The fact is, you can’t tell a business owner how to run the store; at some point, you have to hope the owner will make changes for the better. Even though it appears it’s taken Dan Snyder a long time to get it right, maybe he did just that: get it right!
The fact is, Ron Rivera, the former Carolina Panthers head coach and now the Redskins’ head coach, is a noted winner. People such as Ray Flaherty (the head coach from 1936 to 1942), Vince Lombardi and Joe Gibbs will be forever connected to the team’s well-respected history, but all of that is in the past.
You want an example of a successful, winning resume? The 57-year old Rivera should be atop the pile of any of the modern-day NFL coaches.
Forget the numbers right now and let’s examine something the Redskins have lacked for many years: good character. Rivera is a two-time winner of the AP’s Coach of The Year award and captured the same honor among the pro football writers. He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and comes from a family who served in the armed forces.
The Rivera family is no stranger to the DMV — his wife, Stephanie, was an assistant coach with the Mystics.
On the field, he was an All-American linebacker at the University of California and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1984. Just one year later, he found himself sharing honors with Mike Ditka and Jim McMahon as the Bears defeated the Patriots, 46-10, to win Super Bowl XX in New Orleans.
After playing nine seasons in the NFL, Rivera retired and briefly went behind the microphone as a commentator for several years. In 1997, coaching got into his blood. Rivera was named the Bears’ defensive quality control coach and stayed within the organization for two years. In 1999, he was hired by the Eagles as their linebackers coach, and then really started to climb the ladder.
In January 2011, Rivera was named head coach of the Carolina Panthers. During his nine-year tenure, he posted an overall record of 76-63-1, winning the NFC conference title in 2015.
He didn’t have a bad playoff run during his nine years, reaching the postseason four times and putting up a record of 3-4. Earlier this month, after a 5-7 start, Rivera was fired as head coach of the Panthers and thus became the hottest free agent coach in the NFL.
I covered the news conference in 2011 at which Rivera was introduced as Carolina’s new head coach. There was such a positive, vibrant and energetic atmosphere in the air that no one in the room could wait to cover or interact with this person.
Everyone agreed that former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson got it right, and that’s what I think is coming for Dan Snyder and, more importantly, Redskins fans.
Rivera is no stranger to discipline, and that’s something his new team certainly lacks. But a winning background is something Rivera does not lack, and that’s a welcome feeling to any Redskins fan.