Ron Rivera has a tall task ahead of him, more than he realized when he first came to Washington. Can he change the culture off the field and produce a winning football team on the field?
It was a frustrating 2019 season for the Washington football team after finishing 3-13 and firing their head coach after an 0-5 start. It has been an equally frustrating offseason.
Last week, it was reported that 17 women were allegedly sexually and verbally abused by former team employees. This coming on top of the most recent movement to change the team’s nickname. Earlier this month, FedEx and Nike threatened to pull their sponsorships and three co-owners were ready to sell their shares in the team if the name “Redskins” was not changed.
All-in-all 87 different investors and shareholders, which net over $600 billion, signed letters stating that they would pull their sponsorships unless Washington changed their nickname. The letters were enough for majority owner Daniel Snyder to make the decision to retire the name and logo.
With the team name now changing, it is also a good opportunity for a culture change in Washington as well.
Enter new head coach Ron Rivera.
A well-respected coach with more than 20 years of experience, Rivera is coming off of nine seasons as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. In Carolina, he coached the Panthers to three straight divisional titles and a Super Bowl appearance. Rivera was also named NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press in 2013 and 2015. In January, he was hired to bring a similar success to Washington, and from the beginning, Rivera put his focus on change.
While I love the storied history of the franchise, I am focused on the future and excited for the opportunity to win football games with this talented young team. After meeting Dan Snyder, it was clear we are aligned in our passion for the game and he supports my vision to turn the team around. I look forward to surrounding myself with great people and getting to work.
Rivera quickly overhauled the coaching staff, making his first move by hiring former Raiders and Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio as defensive coordinator.
However, with the allegations of sexual and verbal abuse surrounding the organization, it is clear that personnel changes are not the only changes that Rivera needs to be involved in. Rivera made a statement to ESPN’s John Keim
Biggest thing is we have to move forward from this & make sure everybody understands we have policies that we will follow and that we have an open-door policy with no retribution. Plus my daughter works for the team and I sure as hell am not going to allow any of this!
The new head coach is also heavily involved in the decision process for the new team name. He is even hopeful to complete the process before the season starts. He spoke about that to the Washington Post.
If we get it done in time for the season, it would be awesome.
A 3-13 season was only one of the things that were wrong with this organization. Ron Rivera was brought in to change the culture of this team, and he appears to have already started. The hope is, that the changes made off the field will result in wins on the field.