Ron Rivera

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Ron Rivera
Color head-and-torso photograph of Ron Rivera wearing a hat before a football game.
Rivera during his time as Carolina Panthers head coach (2016)
Washington Redskins
Position:Head coach
Personal information
Born: (1962-01-07) January 7, 1962 (age 58)
Fort Ord, California
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school:Seaside (CA)
NFL Draft:1984 / Round: 2 / Pick: 44
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As player
As coach
Career NFL statistics
Quarterback sacks:7.5
Fumble recoveries:6
Player stats at
Head coaching record
Regular season:76–63–1 (.546)
Postseason:3–4 (.429)
Career:79–67–1 (.541)
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.

Early years[edit]

Ronald Eugene Rivera was born in Fort Ord, California on January 7, 1962.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.[2][4] The family eventually settled in Seaside, California, where he attended Seaside High School and began playing football before graduating in 1980.[5]

Playing career[edit]

Cal Golden Bears (NCAA)[edit]

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.[6][7] Rivera finished his career as the school's all-time leader at the time in sacks with 22 and tackles with 336.[8] He also once held the school's single-season record for sacks with 13, and tackles for loss with 26.5.[8]

Chicago Bears (NFL)[edit]

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 19881990. He was named the team's Man of the Year in 1988, and was named their Ed Block Courage Award recipient the following year.[8] 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.[9][8]


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.[10][11]

Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

In 1999, Rivera was named linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles under newly hired head coach Andy Reid.[10] 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.[12]

Chicago Bears[edit]

On January 23, 2004, Rivera was named defensive coordinator of the Bears.[10] 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.[13] 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,[14] 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.[15] Around the same time, he interviewed for several vacant head coaching positions around the league, including with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.[16][17][18]

San Diego Chargers[edit]

Rivera was hired by the San Diego Chargers to become their inside linebackers coach in February 2007.[19] In October 2008, Rivera was promoted to defensive coordinator after the team fired Ted Cottrell.[20]

Carolina Panthers[edit]

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.[21] During his first year, the Panthers went 6–10 and finished third in the division.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23]

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,[24] advancing to Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos.[25] Although the Panthers would lose it 24-10,[26] Rivera was recognized as the 2015 AP NFL Coach of the Year, his second such honor.[27]

Rivera signed a two-year contract extension worth US$15.5 million in January 2018.[28] On December 3, 2019, after a 5–7 start to the season, Rivera was fired after nine seasons as head coach.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31][32]

Washington Redskins[edit]

On January 1, 2020, Rivera was hired to become the head coach of the Washington Redskins, their 29th in team history.[33] 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.[34][35] For his assistant coaches, Rivera hired several former staff of his from the Panthers,[36] assigning Scott Turner, the son of former Redskins head coach Norv Turner, as offensive coordinator,[37] as well as assigning former Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio as defensive coordinator.[38]

Head coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
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
CAR 2019 5 7 0 .417 (Fired)
CAR total 76 63 1 .546 3 4 .429
WAS 2020 0 0 0
WAS total 0 0 0 0 0
Total 76 63 1 .546 3 4 .429

Personal life[edit]

Rivera is a Roman Catholic[4] and has three brothers, Steven, Michael, and John.[39] Michael, nicknamed Mickey, died from pancreatic cancer in July 2015.[40] 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.[4] Rivera was inducted into the California Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.[7] On January 5, 2015, Rivera's home in Charlotte, North Carolina caught fire, but he and his family escaped without injury.[41]

Rivera has a wife, Stephanie Rivera, who he met while at Cal in August 1983, marrying her shortly after being drafted in 1984.[10][42] Stephanie is a former youth basketball coach, most notably serving as an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA in 2000.[43] The family have two children together, Christopher and Courtney.[44]

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.[45][46] The name was inspired after 19th century frontier gamblers, with Rivera later embracing it for his Twitter account.[47]


  1. ^ Friedman, Ian A. (2007). Latino Athletes. Facts On File. p. 195. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Devine, John. "Marina's Ron Rivera: Growing up to be a Super Bowl coach". Monterey Herald. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  3. ^ Kroichick, Ron. "Ron Rivera's footprints trace to Northern California". SF Gate. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Yasinskas, Pat. "Rivera embraces role as pioneer". ESPN. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  5. ^ Devine, John. "NFL: Seaside's Ron Rivera ready for next chapter in coaching career". Monterey Herald. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  6. ^ Faraudo, Jeff. "Cal Football: Ron Rivera Fired as Carolina Panthers Coach After 9 Seasons". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Ron Rivera - California Athletics Hall of Fame". Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d "Ron Rivera". Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  9. ^ Mayer, Larry (January 12, 2014). "Rivera, Harbaugh to clash in playoffs". Chicago Bears. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d Janes, Théoden. "Is she the secret to Panthers coach Ron Rivera's success?". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  11. ^ Selby, Zach. "Ron Rivera Becomes 29th Head Coach In Redskins History". Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Greger, Mike. "Donovan McNabb Predicts Landing Spot for Ron Rivera". Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  13. ^ "Assistant Coach of the Year". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  14. ^ Biersdorfer, Tom. "Super Bowl XLI: Peyton Manning gets ring in Colts 29-17 win over Bears". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  15. ^ Pasquarelli, Len. "Chicago not retaining D-coordinator Rivera". ESPN. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  16. ^ Bouchette, Ed; Dulac, Gerry. "The Steelers Coaching Search: It's Tomlin". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  17. ^ "Brown: Is Rivera worth the wait? – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". January 19, 2007. Archived from the original on March 2, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  18. ^ Archer, Todd (February 9, 2007). "Wade Phillips Hired as Dallas Cowboys Head Coach". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Clayton, John (February 20, 2007). "Rivera joins the Chargers as linebackers coach". ESPN. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  20. ^ "Chargers fire Cottrell, name Rivera new defensive coordinator". ESPN. October 28, 2008. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  21. ^ a b "Ron Rivera hired as Panthers' coach". ESPN. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  22. ^ Pompei, Dan (December 6, 2013). "The Making of Riverboat Ron". Sports on Earth. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  23. ^ Wesseling, Chris. "Carolina Panthers' Ron Rivera wins Coach of the Year". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  24. ^ Kilgore, Adam. "Panthers rout Cardinals in NFC title game". Washington Post. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  25. ^ Biggs, Brad. "Ron Rivera comes home for Super Bowl 50 having done it his way". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  26. ^ Martin, Jill. "Super Bowl 2016: Broncos' defense dominates as Peyton Manning wins second title". CNN. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  27. ^ Wesseling, Chris. "Ron Rivera named 2015 NFL Coach of the Year". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  28. ^ "Panthers sign Rivera to two-year contract extension". Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  29. ^ "Carolina Panthers fire head coach Ron Rivera". December 3, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  30. ^ "David Tepper explains why he decided to part ways with head coach Ron Rivera". Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  31. ^ Marks, Brendan (October 6, 2019). "'I'm just very fortunate.' Emotional Ron Rivera becomes winningest coach in team history". The Charlotte Observer.
  32. ^ Ahearn, Cale. "Redskins hire Ron Rivera". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  33. ^ Keim, John. "Redskins officially name Ron Rivera coach, make Jack Del Rio DC". ESPN. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  34. ^ Allen, Scott (January 2, 2020). "Redskins introduce Ron Rivera as head coach, promising a culture change". Washington Post. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  35. ^ DiMargo, Carissa. "'Win a Super Bowl': Redskins New Head Coach Ron Rivera Talks Goals". NBC Sports Washington. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  36. ^ Carpenter, Les; Maske, Mark; Copeland, Kareem. "Ron Rivera is building his Redskins coaching staff, but the front office may take longer". Washington Post. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  37. ^ Keim, John. "Redskins give OC job to Scott Turner, son of team's ex-coach". ESPN. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  38. ^ Carpenter, Les. "Jack Del Rio to become Redskins defensive coordinator, will switch to a 4-3 scheme". Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  39. ^ Fowler, Scott. "Brotherly love: Ron Rivera opens up about what his older brother meant to him". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  40. ^ Newton, Michael (July 28, 2015). "Ron Rivera could miss start of Panthers camp after brother's death". ESPN. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  41. ^ EndPlay (January 5, 2015). "Fire causes $500K damage at Panthers' coach Ron Rivera's home".
  42. ^ Haugh, David. "Coach behind Panthers coach is Ron Rivera's wife Stephanie". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  43. ^ Lee, Albert. "Stephanie Rivera, wife of Ron Rivera, was a Mystics assistant coach in 2000". SB Nation. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  44. ^ Daniel, P.K. (July 13, 2010). "There's more than one Rivera calling the shots". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  45. ^ Newton, David (November 14, 2013). "'Riverboat Ron' name catching on". ESPN. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  46. ^ Newton, David (October 15, 2013). "Rivera calculated, not a Riverboat gambler". ESPN. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  47. ^ Stackpole, Kyle. "Five Things To Know About New Redskins Head Coach Ron Rivera". Retrieved January 1, 2020.

External links[edit]