Commanders HC Ron Rivera's reinvigoration
There's no getting away from it. Ron Rivera is a man reborn.
Taking the Washington Commanders' head coaching gig was an immediate route back into football after he was fired by the Carolina Panthers shortly before the 2019 campaign concluded. But not even Rivera could have envisaged the toxic atmosphere, dwindling fan interest, and complete community disenchantment caused by Dan Snyder's incompetence.
Couple this with the constant stream of scandals, and the questions coming to Rivera's door had nothing to do with football more often than not. Over time - along with the coach's health issues - it began to weigh him down considerably.
Just how much was perhaps underestimated when one considers the glowing demeanor and smile on Rivera's face throughout camp. He's approachable, engaging with his press conference answers, and looks to be loving life once again despite the increased pressure on his shoulders with Josh Harris' ownership group watching every move closely.
Rivera's newfound enthusiasm isn't the surprise - it's the magnitude of his personality turnaround that's been most shocking. The respected figure had a terrible burden to bear with a disgraced absent owner causing complications, so returning to the matter at hand must feel like emerging from hell's smoldering basement and up to heaven's gate.
There's no doubt Rivera is on the hot seat. But that doesn't seem to be bothering him whatsoever after the coach and the Commanders emerged from a very dark tunnel.