Ronald Eugene "Ron" Rivera (born January 7, 1962) is an American
football coach and former player who is the head coach of the Carolina
Panthers of the
National Football League
National Football League (NFL). He has also been the
defensive coordinator for the
Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers.
Rivera played college football at the University of California in
Berkeley, and was recognized as an
All-American linebacker. He was
selected in the second round of the
1984 NFL draft by the Chicago
Bears, and was a backup on the 1985 team which won
Super Bowl XX.
As a coach, Rivera was the defensive coordinator for Bears in the
2006, who were NFC champions and competed in
Super Bowl XLI. In 2011,
he was named head coach of the Panthers. Rivera was recognized as the
NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press in 2013 and in 2015.
Since taking over the Panthers, he has led the team to three straight
divisional titles, and an appearance in
Super Bowl 50.
1 Early years
2 Playing career
2.1 College career
2.2 Professional career
3 Coaching career
3.1 Philadelphia Eagles
3.2 Chicago Bears
3.3 San Diego Chargers
3.4 Carolina Panthers
3.5 Head coaching record
4 Personal life
5 See also
7 External links
Rivera was born on January 7, 1962, in Fort Ord, California. His
father, Eugenio Rivera, was a Puerto Rican commissioned officer in the
U.S. Army stationed in California. There he met his future wife,
Dolores. Due to his father's military service, the family moved often,
and Rivera was educated in military bases in Germany, Panama,
Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Finally, the family settled in central
California where he attended Seaside High School, where he began
Rivera was granted a football scholarship to California, where he was
All-American linebacker, leading the Golden Bears in
tackles for his last three years as a player. He once held Cal's
all-time sack and career tackles records, and still holds the record
for most tackles for loss in a season, set in 1983. Rivera was the MVP
of the 1984 East-West Shrine Game.
In the 1984 NFL draft, Rivera was selected in the second round by the
Chicago Bears. In 1985, he played in
Super Bowl XX, where the Bears
beat the New England Patriots 46–10. Rivera was the first
Mexican/Puerto Rican to play on a
Super Bowl championship team. He
became a starter in 1988, serving for three seasons. Rivera played for
the Bears for a total of nine seasons (1984–1992).
In 1993, Rivera went to work for
WGN-TV and SportsChannel Chicago as a
TV analyst covering the Bears and college football. In 1996, he became
a defense quality control coach for the Bears.
In 1999, Rivera was named linebackers coach for the Philadelphia
Eagles. During his tenure, the Eagles advanced to the NFC championship
for three consecutive seasons. He is credited with developing
Jeremiah Trotter into a two-time
Pro Bowl performer.
On January 23, 2004, Rivera was named defensive coordinator of the
Bears. In 2005, the Bears defense was rated second-best in the NFL.
The Bears qualified for the NFC playoffs, losing in the second round
to the Carolina Panthers, 29–21. The 2005 performance of the Chicago
Bears earned him consideration for Head Coach assignments from several
In 2006, the Bears' defensive efforts failed to match the success of
their 2005 season. Nevertheless, the team was still a notable presence
in league, finishing with the league's third ranked and conference's
top-ranked points allowed category. The defense's success earned
Rivera recognition among franchises looking for new head coaches. The
Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers interviewed him in January
2007. He was a candidate for the vacant Dallas Cowboys head coaching
position, a job that ultimately went to
San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers defensive
coordinator Wade Phillips. Rivera was named as a potential candidate
to replace the fired
Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego, but the job
was filled by Norv Turner, the brother of fellow offensive
coordinator, Ron Turner, Rivera's offensive counterpart in
Chicago. After the announcement,
ESPN reported that the Bears
were considering letting Rivera go. This came after several other
teams interviewed him, and the negotiations between his
representatives and the Bears were making little progress. On
February 19, 2007, it was announced that Ron Rivera's contract with
the Bears would not be renewed.
San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers hired Rivera as team's inside linebackers coach
after he left the Bears. On October 28, 2008, Rivera was promoted
to defensive coordinator with the Chargers after the team released
former defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. Rivera had used the
4–3 defense for most of his coaching career, but adopted a 3–4
scheme with the Chargers.
On January 11, 2011, Rivera was named the fourth head coach of the
Carolina Panthers. He is the fifth Latino to be an NFL head coach,
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints coach Tom Fears, former Oakland
Seattle Seahawks coach Tom Flores, former New Orleans
Indianapolis Colts coach Jim E. Mora, and former Atlanta
Falcons coach Jim L. Mora.
During his first year as head coach, the Panthers went 6–10 and
finished third in the division. In 2012, the Panthers finished 7–9
and finished second in the division. Following the 2012 season, Rivera
was expected to be fired.
Over the first 34 games of his coaching career, Rivera was known for
exceptionally conservative decision-making that led to a 2–14 record
in games decided by less than a touchdown. Against the Buffalo Bills
in Week 2, Rivera decided to kick a field goal while up 3 points and
facing a fourth and one deep inside the Bills territory late in the
fourth quarter. The Bills proceeded to drive for a touchdown on their
next drive, scoring on a touchdown pass with less than 20 seconds
remaining in the game. With Carolina opening the 2013 season
0–2, reports circled that the front office was already performing
background checks on new potential head coach candidates. Rivera then
changed his coaching philosophy and became a more aggressive
coach. Facing a 4th and 1 from the two-yard line in the first
quarter against the also 0–2
New York Giants
New York Giants in Week 3, Rivera went
for the touchdown instead of a field goal. A
Mike Tolbert run found
the end zone, and Carolina ended up winning the game 38–0.
Over the next five games, the Panthers went for a first down five
times in situations where conventional strategy called for a field
goal attempt. They converted on four of them and ended each of those
drives with touchdowns, all in wins. The lone failure was against the
Brandon LaFell dropped a wide open pass across the
Cam Newton that would have resulted in a sure touchdown as
well. This sudden aggression in his play-calling earned Rivera the
nickname "Riverboat Ron", after Riverboat gamblers. Rivera has
expressed discontent with the nickname, however, explaining he is "a
calculated risk taker" not a gambler. The Panthers went 11–1 to
finish the season, including a then-franchise record eight-game
winning streak, to win the
NFC South title and make the playoffs for
the first time since 2008. Rivera was honored as the 2013 AP NFL Coach
of the Year.
In Rivera's fourth season as the Panthers' coach, Carolina recovered
from a 3–8–1 start to win its final four regular-season games and
NFC South championship for the second consecutive year. The
Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27–16 in the NFC Wild Card
playoff game for the team's first playoff win since 2005.
The team's momentum would continue in 2015. The Panthers produced the
best season in franchise history, and one of the best regular seasons
in NFL history. The Panthers started the season 14–0, the best
regular-season start in franchise history. They ultimately finished
15–1 (their only loss was in week 16 in Atlanta, a 20–13 defeat by
the Falcons), a franchise record for wins in a season, to clinch
home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time in
franchise history. They defeated the
Seattle Seahawks in the
Divisional Playoffs by a score of 31–24, and routed the Arizona
Cardinals with a 49–15 victory in the NFC Championship Game, leading
the Panthers to their second
Super Bowl appearance. Rivera is the
fifth man of color to lead a team to the Super Bowl. He was also
recognized as the 2015 AP NFL Coach of the Year; his second such honor
of his career. On February 7, 2016, Rivera coached the Panthers in
Super Bowl 50. The Panthers fell to the
Denver Broncos by a score of
Despite reaching the playoffs three years in a row from 2013–2015,
Rivera has been unable to produce back-to-back winning seasons as a
head coach. Following a 22–19 playoff-clinching victory over the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16 of the 2017 season, Rivera became the
first head coach in Panthers history with four playoff appearances. On
January 6, 2018, Rivera signed a two year contract extension.
Head coaching record
3rd in NFC South
2nd in NFC South
1st in NFC South
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers in NFC Divisional Game
1st in NFC South
Seattle Seahawks in NFC Divisional Game
1st in NFC South
Denver Broncos in
Super Bowl 50
4th in NFC South
2nd in NFC South
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints in NFC Wild Card Game
Rivera was born to a Puerto Rican father, who served a career in the
U.S. military, and a Mexican mother. He has two children, a son,
Christopher, and a daughter, Courtney, with his wife, Stephanie, who
is a former assistant coach for the WNBA's Washington Mystics.
In 2003, Rivera was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
He was also inducted into the Cal (University of California, Berkeley)
Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. On January 5, 2015, Rivera's home in
Charlotte, North Carolina, caught on fire. Everyone escaped the house
without injuries. On July 28, 2015, Rivera's brother Mickey died
after a two-year battle with cancer.
Rivera has been a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Puerto Rico portal
American football portal
List of famous Puerto Ricans
^ "Ronald E Rivera in the California Birth Index, 1905–1995".
Ancestry.com. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
Ron Rivera hired as Panthers' coach. ESPN, 2011-01-11
^ Foundation, National Football. "Hall of Fame Candidate Capsule: Ron
Rivera > National Football Foundation > NewsDetail".
^ Mayer, Larry (2014-01-12). "Rivera, Harbaugh to clash in playoffs".
Chicago Bears. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
^ a b "2005
Chicago Bears Statistics & Players".
Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
^ "Prisuta: Steelers assistant talks with Cardinals – Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review". Pittsburghlive.com. 2007-01-19. Archived from the
original on 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
^ "Brown: Is Rivera worth the wait? – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review".
Pittsburghlive.com. 2007-01-19. Archived from the original on
2007-03-02. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
^ John ClaytonNFL senior writerFollowArchive (2007-02-13). "
Don't expect many big names in Chargers' search – NFL".
Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
ESPN – Chicago not retaining D-coordinator Rivera – NFL".
Sports.espn.go.com. 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
^ "NFL News, Videos, Scores, Teams, Standings, Stats – FOX Sports on
MSN". Msn.foxsports.com. Archived from the original on 2007-02-28.
^ John ClaytonNFL senior writerFollowArchive (2007-02-20). "
Rivera joins the Chargers as linebackers coach – NFL".
Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
ESPN – Chargers fire Cottrell, name Rivera new defensive
coordinator". Sports.espn.go.com. 2008-10-28. Retrieved
Ron Rivera expected to be fired today". NFL.com. December 2013.
Retrieved January 2, 2015.
^ a b c Pompei, Dan (December 6, 2013). "The Making of Riverboat Ron".
Sports on Earth. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
^ Newton, David (November 14, 2013). "'Riverboat Ron' name catching
on". ESPN. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
^ Newton, David (October 15, 2013). "Rivera calculated, not a
Riverboat gambler". ESPN. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
Super Bowl 50 –
Denver Broncos vs.
Carolina Panthers – February
7th, 2016". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
^ "Panthers sign Rivera to two-year contract extension". NFL.com.
Retrieved January 6, 2018.
^ "Baseball Blue Jays: Recalled PPeter Munro from..."
^ Daniel, P.K. (July 13, 2010). "There's more than one Rivera calling
the shots". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
^ "CalBears.com – University of California Official Athletic Site".
^ EndPlay (5 January 2015). "Fire causes $500K damage at Panthers'
coach Ron Rivera's home".
^ Newton, Michael (July 28, 2015). "
Ron Rivera could miss start of
Panthers camp after brother's death he's also mexican". ESPN.
Retrieved July 29, 2015.
^ Bannon, Terry. "Familiar faces to greet Rivera Sunday", Chicago
Tribune, September 30, 2004. Accessed January 2, 2018. "In five years
as the Philadelphia Eagles' linebackers coach, Bears defensive
Ron Rivera learned about coaching defense from coordinator
Jim Johnson and picked up a few sidekicks in his Cherry Hill, N.J.,
Carolina Panthers bio
Career statistics and player information from
NFL.com • Pro-Football-Reference • Databasefootball.com
Current head coaches of the National Football League
American Football Conference
Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills)
Adam Gase (Miami Dolphins)
Bill Belichick (New England Patriots)
Todd Bowles (New York Jets)
John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens)
Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals)
Hue Jackson (Cleveland Browns)
Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Bill O'Brien (Houston Texans)
Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts)
Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans)
Vance Joseph (Denver Broncos)
Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs)
Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers)
Jon Gruden (Oakland Raiders)
National Football Conference
Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys)
Pat Shurmur (New York Giants)
Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles)
Jay Gruden (Washington Redskins)
Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears)
Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions)
Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers)
Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings)
Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons)
Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers)
Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints)
Dirk Koetter (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Steve Wilks (Arizona Cardinals)
Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams)
Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers)
Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks)
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2001 T. Johnson and R. Williams
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48 Reggie Phillips
50 Mike Singletary
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2005: L. Smith
2008: M. Smith