Washington Football Team surprises, honors coach Ron Rivera one year after cancer battle

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Washington Football Team players surprised coach Ron Rivera on Friday with a special helmet decal and a donation to the St. Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center to officially mark one year after Rivera’s biopsy came back negative.

Players surprised Rivera with a video during a team meeting on Friday, where they revealed the special “Rivera Strong” decal and $25,000 donation.

"As a coach, you always wonder if you get a chance to reach out to the players and touch them," Rivera told his team after the video. "This was awesome, man. Thank you."

Rivera diagnosed with cancer in 2020

Rivera announced last August that he had been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer in his lymph nodes.

The cancer, which he described as “very treatable and curable,” was found in July 2020 after he discovered a lump in his neck.

“I was stunned,” Rivera said at the time. “But I was angry because I feel like I’m in best health I’ve been in.”

Rivera kept coaching through his treatment, though it wasn’t easy. He missed parts of practices, and even once needed an IV at halftime of a game. Rivera, though, underwent his final cancer treatment that October, and announced in January that he was officially cancer-free.

Rivera is now underway in his second season in Washington, and the team will take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Though he’s been incredibly outspoken about the COVID-19 pandemic — as Rivera is at a higher risk of contracting and struggling with the coronavirus due to his cancer battle, he’s been a very vocal critic of those skeptical of the pandemic or the vaccine — Rivera is back to full strength.

And, as the NFL kicks off its “Crucial Catch” initiative this month, it sounds like his players picked the perfect time to honor Rivera.

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