Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY
Published 5:05 p.m. ET Aug. 22, 2020
USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell breaks down various potential contingencies as the NFL tries to play during a pandemic.
To effectively battle his cancer diagnosis, Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera knows he will have to lean on the other members of the locker room, from players to the coaching staff.
“I’m not being rosy about this,” he told reporters on a Zoom call Saturday, via ESPN. “I’m being honest. I know I’m going to struggle, so on days I do, I ask the coaches to step up and the players to step up and take ownership. I understand the significance of what I’m going through and I understand how tough it’s going to be. Those days I can be on the field, I will be on the field. … If I’m there, we’ll be business as usual. If not, Plan B. I don’t expect that to happen. I hope it doesn’t happen. I hope I can make every practice.
“Just in case I can’t, we have a Plan B going forward. And as I said before, the prognosis is good, so I’m fairly confident. I can’t wait to get started and get it over with.”
Plan B includes elevating defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio into the head coaching spot in Rivera’s absence. The arrangement is not all dissimilar to what happened when Del Rio spelled John Fox as head coach of the Denver Broncos in 2013 when Fox underwent heart surgery.
“He’s been through this before with Fox in Denver, so I’ve got a guy who’s been a head coach, that’s been in this situation before,” Rivera said. “That’s what the plan is.
“I have a great saying that I really do appreciate. It’s called ‘Don’t draw me a map unless you’ve been there,’ and Jack’s been there. He’s been helpful, he really has. … Now with this circumstance and situation we have, his value for us is even more so.”
Rivera, 58, was hired by Washington this offseason after nine seasons as the Carolina Panthers coach. He has remained adamant that his squamous cell cancer diagnosis, which he revealed Thursday night, is “very treatable.”
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