Rivera during his time as Carolina Panthers head coach (2016)
|Born:||January 7, 1962|
Fort Ord, California
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||235 lb (107 kg)|
|High school:||Seaside (CA)|
|NFL Draft:||1984 / Round: 2 / Pick: 44|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Head coaching record|
|Regular season:||76–63–1 (.546)|
|Player stats at PFR|
|Coaching stats at PFR|
Ronald Eugene Rivera (born January 7, 1962), nicknamed Riverboat Ron, is an American football head coach for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL). Before becoming a coach, Rivera played college football at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was recognized as an All-American linebacker for the California Golden Bears. He was selected in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, and was a part of the 1985 team that won Super Bowl XX. He spent nine years playing for them before retiring after the 1992 season.
Rivera's coaching career began in 1997 when he joined the Bears as a quality control coach. He then joined the Philadelphia Eagles as a linebackers coach in 1999 before rejoining the Bears to become their defensive coordinator in 2004. With them, the Bears made an appearance in Super Bowl XLI. He then joined the San Diego Chargers as a linebackers coach in 2007 before serving as their defensive coordinator for the next three seasons.
In 2011, Rivera became the head coach for the Carolina Panthers. With them, Rivera became their all-time winning coach and was recognized twice as NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015, while also leading the team to an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Despite that, Rivera was fired midway through the 2019 season due to new ownership wanting a change. Rivera then joined the Washington Redskins to become their head coach in 2020.
Ronald Eugene Rivera was born in Fort Ord, California on January 7, 1962. His father, Eugenio Rivera, was a Puerto Rican commissioned officer in the U.S. Army stationed in California. There Eugenio met his future wife, Dolores, who is of Mexican descent. The family moved often due to his father's military service, with Rivera being educated in military bases in Germany, Panama, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. The family eventually settled in Seaside, California, where he attended Seaside High School and began playing football before graduating in 1980.
Cal Golden Bears (NCAA)
Rivera was granted a football scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley, leading the Golden Bears in tackles as a linebacker during his three years there. For his final season in 1983, Rivera received several awards and honors for his performance, including being named a consensus All-American, Pac-10 Football Defensive Player of the Year along with Arizona linebacker Ricky Hunley, the Pop Warner Trophy, and being named MVP of the East–West Shrine Game. Rivera finished his career as the school's all-time leader at the time in sacks with 22 and tackles with 336. He also once held the school's single-season record for sacks with 13, and tackles for loss with 26.5.
Chicago Bears (NFL)
Rivera was selected in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. In 1985, Rivera became the first American of Puerto Rican descent to win a Super Bowl, as the Bears defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Rivera played most of his early career with the team as a rotational linebacker and special teamer, starting for them from 1988–1990. He was named the team's Man of the Year in 1988, and was named their Ed Block Courage Award recipient the following year. He played nine seasons for them before retiring after the 1992 season, playing in 149 games with 62 starts, 392 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 9 interceptions.
In 1993, Rivera went to work for WGN-TV and SportsChannel Chicago as a television analyst covering the Bears and college football. In 1997, he joined the Bears as a defensive quality control coach.
In 1999, Rivera was named linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles under newly hired head coach Andy Reid. During his tenure, the Eagles advanced to the NFC championship for three consecutive seasons. He also was credited with developing linebacker Jeremiah Trotter into a two-time Pro Bowler.
On January 23, 2004, Rivera was named defensive coordinator of the Bears. In 2005, the Bears defense was rated second in the league by total yardage, with the team winning the NFC North division with a record of 11-5 before losing in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Carolina Panthers. For his efforts that year, Rivera was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association. In 2006, the Bears had the league's third-ranked defense in terms of points allowed, which helped them advance to Super Bowl XLI. Although the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts 29-17, the defense's success earned Rivera recognition among franchises looking for new head coaches. In February 2007, it was announced that Rivera's contract with the Bears would not be extended due to failed negotiations. Around the same time, he interviewed for several vacant head coaching positions around the league, including with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.
San Diego Chargers
Rivera was hired by the San Diego Chargers to become their inside linebackers coach in February 2007. In October 2008, Rivera was promoted to defensive coordinator after the team fired Ted Cottrell.
On January 11, 2011, Rivera was hired to become the fourth head coach of the Carolina Panthers. He was the third Latino in NFL history to become a head coach, following Tom Fears and Tom Flores. During his first year, the Panthers went 6–10 and finished third in the division. In 2012, the Panthers finished 7–9 and finished second in the division. Over his first two years with the Panther, Rivera was known for his conservative decision-making, with journalists his record of 2–14 record in games decided by less than a touchdown. Following an 0-2 start to the 2013 season, reports suggested that the Panthers were already contemplating getting a new head coach. As a result, Rivera began to make more aggressive decisions. The Panthers then went 11–1 to finish the season, including a then-franchise record eight-game winning streak, to win the NFC South division and make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. For his efforts, Rivera was honored as the 2013 AP NFL Coach of the Year.
In 2014, the Panthers recovered from a 3–8–1 start to win its final four regular-season games and clinch the NFC South for the second consecutive year. The Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27–16 in the NFC Wild Card playoff game for the team's first playoff win since 2005 before falling to the eventual NFC champion Seattle Seahawks the following week. The team's momentum would continue in 2015, as the Panthers produced their best season in franchise history by finishing 15–1, with their only loss being versus the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. The team held the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, where they defeated the Seahawks in the divisional round and the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, advancing to Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos. Although the Panthers would lose it 24-10, Rivera was recognized as the 2015 AP NFL Coach of the Year, his second such honor.
Rivera signed a two-year contract extension worth US$15.5 million in January 2018. On December 3, 2019, after a 5–7 start to the season, Rivera was fired after nine seasons as head coach. Owner David Tepper, who bought the team in 2018, stated that while Rivera was one of the finest men he had ever known, he made the decision to fire Rivera as he wanted to build his own approach for the team. Rivera finished his career with the Panthers with four playoff appearances and a total record of 79–67–1, both of which rank first all-time in team history.
On January 1, 2020, Rivera was hired to become the head coach of the Washington Redskins, their 29th in team history. At his introductory press conference, Rivera stated that he became convinced that the team was the right fit for his next coaching job after having meetings with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and former head coach Joe Gibbs, which started almost immediately after he was fired from the Panthers. For his assistant coaches, Rivera hired several former staff of his from the Panthers, assigning Scott Turner, the son of former Redskins head coach Norv Turner, as offensive coordinator, as well as assigning former Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio as defensive coordinator.
Head coaching record
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|CAR||2011||6||10||0||.375||3rd in NFC South||–||–||–||–|
|CAR||2012||7||9||0||.438||2nd in NFC South||–||–||–||–|
|CAR||2013||12||4||0||.750||1st in NFC South||0||1||.000||Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Divisional Game|
|CAR||2014||7||8||1||.469||1||1||.500||Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Divisional Game|
|CAR||2015||15||1||0||.938||2||1||.667||Lost to Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50|
|CAR||2016||6||10||0||.375||4th in NFC South||–||–||–||–|
|CAR||2017||11||5||0||.688||2nd in NFC South||0||1||.000||Lost to New Orleans Saints in NFC Wild Card Game|
|CAR||2018||7||9||0||.438||3rd in NFC South||–||–||–||–|
Rivera is a Roman Catholic and has three brothers, Steven, Michael, and John. Michael, nicknamed Mickey, died from pancreatic cancer in July 2015. While growing up, his idol was Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to victims of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake. Rivera was inducted into the California Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994. On January 5, 2015, Rivera's home in Charlotte, North Carolina caught fire, but he and his family escaped without injury.
Rivera has a wife, Stephanie Rivera, who he met while at Cal in August 1983, marrying her shortly after being drafted in 1984. Stephanie is a former youth basketball coach, most notably serving as an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA in 2000. The family have two children together, Christopher and Courtney.
Rivera's nickname, "Riverboat Ron", was given to him by fans and the media after several risky decisions he made during the early part of the 2013 season with the Panthers. The name was inspired after 19th century frontier gamblers, with Rivera later embracing it for his Twitter account.
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