The most compelling part of Thursday’s NFL game was the postgame meltdown from the coach who won. After a hideous 12-7 victory over the Bears, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera arrived at the podium to deliver a brief and angry speech defending Carson Wentz, who went 12-for-22 with 99 passing yards and little else.
“Everybody keeps wanting to say I didn’t want anything to do with Carson,” Rivera said. “Well, bullshit. I’m the fucking guy that pulled out the sheets of paper, that looked at the analytics, that watched the tape in frickin’ Indianapolis, OK? And that’s what pisses me off. This young man doesn’t deserve to have that all the time.” Then the coach stormed off. Carson’s a man! His passer rating’s 40!
Rivera had already insisted earlier in the week that he was the reason Washington traded for Wentz, but also said that he thought “quarterback” was the difference between the Commies and the more successful NFC East teams. Why would the coach choose to incriminate himself further? What in-depth stats did Rivera have that indicated Wentz could be better than his on-field product?
To be fair, Rivera’s probably dealing with a lot this week, even putting aside the time he’s spent walking back his bluntly honest one-word comment. The Commanders are catching heat for yet another damning report on team owner Dan Snyder, published Thursday by ESPN. The gist is that NFL owners hate Snyder, and they’d really like him to divest and fuck off, but he doesn’t care because he has dirt on them. The main reason he hasn’t been nudged out like Robert Sarver is because of these oppo files, which supposedly include one on commissioner Roger Goodell. Snyder’s colleagues would still reportedly get rid of him if they had the 24 votes. One might infer that they don’t, but that they’re trying: If Al Michaels is openly talking about an NFL owner like this on a broadcast, it may be presented as opinion, but it’s likely grounded in actual conversations.
The NFL will have a real problem if Snyder is cornered and chooses to burn bridges. For everyone else, though? That’s a win-win. What’s the downside of flushing a few other turds? I’m under no illusion that they’d be replaced with better, more thoughtful billionaires, but it’s time to get some new freaks into the mix. Look at what David Tepper’s brought to the Carolina Panthers; this week that smug creep said he invented live music in Charlotte.
Rivera can claim the Snyder news doesn’t affect him, but no one believes that. Owner and team are inextricably linked, despite the NFL’s July 2021 punishment in which Snyder was supposed to give up day-to-day operations to his wife Tanya. (If that was ever true, it didn’t last very long.) ESPN disputes Rivera’s claim that he was the only guy looking at sheets of paper and analytics on Wentz: According to the report, Snyder pushed for his team’s “football decision-makers” to trade for the former Colts QB. That would certainly fall under day-to-day operations. Tanya needs to get her ship in order.
All of this makes Rivera’s outburst more embarrassing. This man is winning with one touchdown and debasing himself on behalf of a dreadful quarterback picked by his repugnant boss. To work for the Commanders is to be humiliated endlessly as you represent a team lacking dignity, respect, or talent. Changing the name didn’t change that fact.