How Ron Rivera's cancer battle, return of Alex Smith galvanized the Washington Football Team

6:00 AM ET

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Football Team was 2-7 in November and seemingly headed nowhere, even while playing in the NFC East. A bad team in a terrible division.

Still, Washington professed hope. Coach Ron Rivera maintained the team could win the division, a comment that often drew raised eyebrows and snickers — even if it was mathematically accurate.

Then, Washington won four straight games. The laughing stopped.

And then it became obvious: Don’t bet against a team whose coach underwent in-season cancer treatment and whose quarterback, Alex Smith, needed 17 surgeries so he could walk and play again.

2 Related

They are two big reasons Washington (7-9) won the NFC East and will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) in the wild-card round on Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC), providing inspiration and a bonding element for a team coming off a chaotic 3-13 season in 2019.

There are other reasons as well: the addition of No. 2 overall pick Chase Young at defensive end, for example. A scouting staff that helped deliver a young talent base. Assistants who picked up slack while Rivera focused on treatments and was fatigued.

But Rivera’s battle with squamous

Read More


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Scroll to Top