Musing from your Post Master General
Week Six of the NFL season got underway last night with the Chicago Bears defeating the winless New York Giants 27-21. The atmosphere at Solider Field was electric as the Bears defense held off the Giants in the final quarter of the game. No matter how up and down Chicago ends up playing this year, the Bears and gutty defense are something that go hand in hand in the mind of many long time NFL fans. This of course is mostly due to the exploits of the 1985 Chicago Bears who even today are considered the gold standard for defensive excellence. The ’85 Bears, coached by Mike Ditka were 15-1 that season and won the Super Bowl in dominating fashion. Their defense was anchored by an elite linebacking corps of Mike Singletary, Wilber Marshall, and Otis Wilson. Backing them up was a young second year player out of the University of California named Ron Rivera, who is this weeks featured personality in our segment recognizing the contributions of Hispanics and Latin Americans in the National Football League, Football Americano.
Ronald Eugene Rivera was born in Fort Ord, California in 1962. His father was a Puerto Rican U.S. Army officer stationed in California and his mother was a Mexican American who was from the region. After playing football at Seaside High School in the Monterey Bay area of Northern California, Rivera was given a scholarship to play linebacker for the California Golden Bears. While at the school, Rivera became an All-American as the position, setting Berkeley records for tackles and sacks in the process. His college exploits were enough to get himself drafted by the Bears in 1984, a team in which he would play his entire nine year career with.
As mentioned earlier, Rivera played with the Bears during their historic 1985 season, become the first Puerto Rican to play in and win the Super Bowl at Super Bowl XX in New Orleans. Rivera played hard for and learned a lot from legendary Defensive Coordinator Buddy Ryan, father of current Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan and New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan. It would be this tutelage that would guide him in his second career once he retired after the 1992 season.
The 1985 Bears defense would go on to produce three future head coaches in its own right, Mike Singletary who coached the San Francisco 49ers in 2009 and 2010, Leslie Frazier, who has coached the Vikings since 2010, and Ron Rivera, who has coached the Carolina Panthers since 2011. After his playing career was over, Rivera took various assistant coaching jobs, most nobility with his old team the Bears, for which he lead his defense in Super Bowl XLI. Rivera also served as the Defensive Coordinator for the San Diego Chargers before receiving his head coaching opportunity with Carolina.
Ron Rivera is currently the first and only Puerto Rican to become a head coach in the NFL. Though his tenure with the Panthers has been inconsistent at best, there have been some high points, mainly those relating to the development and progress of first overall pick, Quarterback Cam Newton. Some have theorized that Rivera’s time in Carolina may be coming to an end after this season, however, whether this happens to be the case or not, nobody can take away the trailblazing accomplishments Rivera has made as a Latino player, coordinator, and head coach.
Hope you enjoyed this weeks edition of our series recognizing the contributions of Latinos and Hispanic Americans in pro football, Football Americano. Don’t forget to read all our previous segments and please log on every Friday for the next profile in our series. Enjoy your Week 6 everyone.
You can find previous posts in our series here.
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