Ron Rivera is being mean to us by challenging one of the few tenets we can all agree on: that the Washington Football Team exists solely for our derision, contempt, and amusement. It’s hard to know how to feel about that, when all is said and done.
As the head coach of the team you mostly love to hate because it demands that very emotion from you in so many ways, Rivera should for the sake of consistency be the kind of coach who mistreats his players or spouts random misogynies or wraps himself in the worst iterations of the flag or makes people who don’t play for him call him “Coach.” Instead, he says stuff like the following, as he did to Sports Illustrated, if you can navigate the advertising minefield that makes the simple act of reading a degree-of-difficulty matter.
“I had a player come to me when we first got back and we’re getting ready to go to camp,” Rivera said. “He came to me, and he had a big smile and said, ‘Hey coach, just got my second vaccine.’ I said, ‘Right on.’ He said, ‘Had to, mama, new baby, got to, coach, gotta be careful for others’. I said, ‘That’s great, plus with that variant … ‘ He looked at me and said, ‘What variant?’ I said, ‘You know, the new delta variant, you know about that?‘
“The player in question had no idea. Rivera asked if the player watches the news. The player said no, and raised his phone to say, “I get all my information from here.” Which, right there in the moment, Rivera recognized as the problem.
“Gen Z is relying on this,” said Rivera, now holding up his phone. “And you got some, quite frankly, f****** a*******, that are putting a bunch of misinformation out there, leading people to die. That’s frustrating to me, that these people are allowed to have a platform. And then, one specific news agency, every time they have someone on, I’m not a doctor, but the vaccines don’t work. Or, I’m not an epidemiologist, but vaccines are going to give you a third nipple and make you sterile. Come on. That, to me? That should not be allowed.”
Rivera is a cancer survivor so the story is largely about that, and this little section of “Preach!” is 22 paragraphs deep into a 52-paragraph web layout that is a typographic Lasik procedure as done by a chimpanzee. In other words, you have to work to get to it, which one supposes can be used as a metaphor for Rivera’s recovery.
Still, that he says it at all is worthwhile, and that he says it as an employee of the WFT challenges one of our most comfortable stereotypes, and for that he would normally be considered a bit of a bastard. And yet he isn’t entirely that because he said what needed saying and repeating because frankly you shouldn’t have to get cancer to understand it.
“There’s enough positive science out there,” he is quoted as saying. “If they’re going to tell me that over 600,000 people have died and 99.9 percent are people that were not vaccinated, well, what about the .1 percent? Well, that .1 percent are people that had underlying conditions—old age, something else. It’s not young, healthy people. So I don’t know why. And then they talk about all this distrust, well, if half the world wants it and can’t get it, what’s the problem with us? It frustrates me.”
See? This is a guy you would have to want to succeed, if it weren’t for the team that employs him. We do not mean to undercut any of the valuable meat on the Why Your Team Sucks carcass that Magary the Malevolent will inflict upon you at the appropriate time, but there’s Rivera making it just a little less enjoyable to let fly with all the facts and truth that make that team so laughably offensive.
So what to do with Ron Rivera if you can’t wish him to win all the games he coaches? What team to place him with so that he can receive all the praise he is worthy of receiving? Maybe Brentford FC because it’s only been in the Premier League for 12 minutes and hasn’t yet had time to behave contemptibly because it was too busy beating Arsenal in its first game back, but then you’d have to replace Thomas Frank as the team’s manager and he doesn’t deserve that.
Thus, the only solutions would seem to be to either rename the team Ron Rivera FT and brick up the owner’s boxes to avoid further contamination (vaccines can only do so much), or wish for them to finish with an 0-0-17 record. Given the rest of the NFC East, that would probably still win the division, and in either event it’s the song not the singer, or more specifically, it’s the song and the singer but not the singer’s boss.
It’s important to make these distinctions so as not to become paralytic when one of their games happens across your device of choice. You know, the one that offers up all those killing lies about why the vaccine is bad.
See? You’re trapped like a rodent no matter which way you turn, and no matter how much Ron Rivera guides you toward the light. Maybe it would be better if Rivera were a senator instead of a coach, or perhaps just governor of Florida. It seems clear that any idiot can do that, and the one thing we do know is that Rivera isn’t an idiot—at least not until he kicks that field goal on fourth and inches from the Cowboys’ nine-yard line in Week 14.