By Melody Miller
Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera has been diagnosed with cancer but plans to continue coaching, he has told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Rivera was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in a lymph node, the team said in a statement. Rivera said the cancer is in the early stages and is considered “very treatable and curable.”
Rivera told his players in a team meeting last night. As of now, he said, nothing changes with his job.
“I’m planning to go on coaching,” he told Schefter. “Doctors encouraged me to do it, too. They said, ‘If you feel strongly, do it. Don’t slow down, do your physical activities.’ But everyone keeps telling me by week three or four, you’ll start feeling it.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, squamous cell cancer is a form of skin cancer. It is usually not life-threatening but can spread throughout the body and cause serious complications.
Rivera said he has a Plan B in place, though he wasn’t yet ready to divulge more information. Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has been a head coach for two teams — Jacksonville (2003-11) and Oakland (2015-17). No one else on the staff has head-coaching experience in the NFL.
Rivera, 58, has consulted with a number of doctors and specialists and is establishing a treatment plan with the team and an outside specialist.
Rivera said he found a lump on his neck in early July, and when it didn’t go away after a couple of weeks he visited a doctor. He said he was told of the cancer two weeks ago.
“I was stunned,” he said. “But I was angry because I feel like I’m in the best health I’ve been in.”