Mark R. Bacon—Main Event Sports DC
Ron Rivera slowly walked out of the tunnel and onto FedEx Field as his wife, Stephanie, guided him along the edge of the south end zone. She pointed to the corner of the stands, Section 115, where a contingent of 400-plus cardboard cutouts of familiar faces filled the seats. Above them were banners reading “Coach’s Corner” and “#RiveraStrong,” a hashtag that also was printed on T-shirts worn by Washington coaches and players before kickoff.
Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, no actual fans are allowed at the stadium for the foreseeable future. Yet hundreds of Rivera’s biggest supporters — his family, friends, former players and coaches, even his dogs — were there with him when he needed them most.
On Sunday, after a difficult stretch of cancer treatment left him visibly weak, Rivera coached the Washington Football Team through a 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in what was undoubtedly the biggest test of his personal battle and a significant measuring stick for his young quarterback, Dwayne Haskins. He came up short.
But the show of support for “Coach Ron,” as the DC Faithful call him, passed the test with flying colors. These moments show us the best of sports.