Much to the chagrin of fans, Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera doesn’t show much emotion on the sideline during games. Rivera typically paces with his arms crossed, making it impossible for fans to gauge his temperature and level of satisfaction with the team’s performance.
Having said that, Rivera wears his emotion on his sleeve behind the scenes. His game-ball speeches following wins are enough to make you run through a brick wall. On the rarest of occasions — some of which have cropped up this season — the three-time AP Coach of the Year loses his cool while addressing the media.
Remember the Commanders’ ugly win over the Bears on Thursday Night Football? After the game, Rivera was asked about ESPN’s bombshell Dan Snyder report that claimed trading for Carson Wentz was piloted by the embattled owner.
Rivera took exception to the question and stormed out of the room.
Following the latest Snyder-induced distraction, fans eagerly awaited Rivera’s response. As expected, the head coach was frustrated about having to answer non-football questions, and even got a little snippy to reporters.
Commanders’ Ron Rivera is fed up having to field questions about Dan Snyder’s off-field distractions.
"“We are trying to focus on what’s on the field,” Rivera said. “We can’t control that portion (off-field) of it again. What we control is the football aspect of it. What our players do, what our team does on the football field. We are going to remain focused on that.”“I know you guys are going to ask the question and somebody is going to ask me, ‘Well what do you think about the distractions’? Well, don’t ask the question, then. Leave him alone. You guys know how everybody feels and you know everybody is putting it out there. So let’s just focus on playing the game.”"
Rivera’s short-tempered reply came just hours after D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced his office is filing a civil lawsuit against Snyder, the Commanders, the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell for “colluding to deceive residents of the District of Columbia” in regard to the league’s investigation into the team’s workplace culture.
Before that, though, Washington released released a statement (through Snyder) invoking the shooting of Brian Robinson Jr., essentially using the player’s near-tragedy as a shield to deter from a pending civil lawsuit.
The ploy unsettled the locker room, and prompted eye-opening responses from Taylor Heinicke and Charles Leno. Even a non-veteran — second-year corner Benjamin St-Juste — aired his Snyder grievances to a French-language paper after the statement was torn apart on social media. In doing so, St-Juste became the first active Commanders player to come out against Snyder.
The silver lining, other than Rivera, Leno, Heinicke and St-Juste all sticking up for Robinson in some capacity following Snyder’s repugnant response, is that Robinson himself is in good spirits in the aftermath, though the 2022 third-round pick admitted the statement makes it “difficult” to move past the shooting.
“I got to be stronger than what I’m up against.”
What a powerful quote from the 23-year-old rookie.
Snyder embodying a distraction days before a big game on the Commanders’ schedule is nothing new — Washington plays in Philly on Monday night — but the distractions have been piling up at an alarming rate over the last few months, and tensions understandably reached a boiling point this time after the owner used a player’s near-death experience as a weapon to attack D.C.’s Attorney General.
Hopefully all of the outside noise brings the locker room closer together.