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Ron Rivera Surprised With 'Coach's Corner' To Support His Battle With Cancer

Ron Rivera sits in front of cutouts placed in the "Coach's Corner" to support him as he undergoes his treatment. (Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team)
Ron Rivera sits in front of cutouts placed in the "Coach's Corner" to support him as he undergoes his treatment. (Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team)

The Washington Football Team filled the stands above the visiting team tunnel at FedExField with more than 400 cutouts to support head coach Ron Rivera as he undergoes treatment for a form of skin cancer.

"When you see things like this [from] people that support you and the notes I've gotten, the letters I've gotten, it's tremendous," Rivera said after seeing the cutouts.

Hundreds of Washington Football Team employees submitted photos throughout the week to show their support for Rivera, who was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, in August. Players from Rivera's previous coaching stints, including Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and Luke Kuechly, who played for Rivera when he was head coach of the Carolina Panthers, also submitted photos to be placed in cutout form in the stands.

Coaches from around the league like Andy Reid, who Rivera coached under in Philadelphia, and Sean McDermott, Rivera's defensive coordinator from 2011-16 with the Panthers, also had cutouts in the stands.

"It really just shows you you're really not doing this by yourself. There's a whole bunch of people helping you do this."

Rivera first spoke with ESPN's Adam Schefter to announce his diagnosis. He admitted he was "stunned" when his doctors first informed him because he felt like "I'm in the best shape I've been in."

Rivera was also assured by his doctors the cancer was "very treatable and very curable."

"I'm very fortunate," he told Senior Vice President of Content and Media Julie Donaldson. "There's been a very high success rate, and so I fall into that category. There's an opportunity for us to take care of this and be able to go forward."

Rivera has continued to coach throughout his treatment, which was recommended by his doctors. He was told to work at "a smart pace" and follow the protocols.

"Hopefully, with the way things are mapped out, it won't get in the way," Rivera said in August. "It won't interfere with football. But it will be part of my rehab, and that is to keep working, to stay focused on my treatment, my personal health, but at the same time, distract myself when I need to."

Rivera has had unwavering support from the team throughout his treatment. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has taken over during Rivera's two missed practices and was chosen to take Rivera's place on the sideline during games if necessary. Players have taken the time to ask Rivera how he is doing and have been motivated by seeing him continue to coach through his treatment.

"I can't say enough about that guy," said Washington punter Tress Way, "and how much he preaches controlling what you can control. And now to watch him live it out in one of the craziest battles anybody could have...the level of respect is definitely up."