Carolina Panther head coach Ron Rivera has made two Super Bowl appearances with the Chicago Bears: one as a linebacker on the famous 1985 team that defeated the New England Patriots, and one as the defensive coordinator of the 2006 team that lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Rivera spent nine seasons as a player in the Windy City and six as a coach. This weekend, he gets a chance to return to the place where it all began and perhaps exact some payback for a relationship that ended somewhat abruptly.
Rivera has no ill will towards the city of Chicago or the Bears organization and expressed his sincere affection for both during last week’s postgame press conference. He made his home in Chicago for the better part of two decades. His playing and coaching careers both began there and he was largely successful in both roles. As a player he appeared in 137 games, starting 56, and never missing more than 4 games in a season. As a coach, his defenses ranked 13th, first, and third from 2004-2006.
However, current Bear Head Coach Lovie Smith preferred his conservative “tampa two” pass defense over Rivera’s more aggressive blitzing style. While, Rivera claims it was purely football disagreements that led to his not getting re-hired after the ’06-’07 Super Bowl loss, many speculate a riff between he and Smith also contributed. We’ll never know, but it seems obvious that a win over his old mates will leave Rivera more than satisfied.
“I’m excited about it, I really am, i’m not going to downplay it.” “People say it’s just another game, no it’s not.” “They’re all big, but this, you know, has a little personal meaning for me.”
Rivera has now been a coach in the NFL for 15 years having also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego chargers. He has had his chance to release the wolves on the Bears and he has been quite the antagonist in previous bouts with Chicago. But he’s never done it as a head coach. Additionally, the Bears are reeling on offense and Rivera comes off his first win at the helm. Perfect timing for a return to his football motherland and a chance to recall everything he learned in Chicago.
By: Alec Campbell
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