Typically one of the most popular annual events offered by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, the 2020 Leadership Lunch, featuring the head coach of the Washington Redskins, was not blocked by the coronavirus pandemic.
But today there was no West Belmont Place meal or face-to-face meet and greet with Ron Rivera. Instead, the Chamber webcast the session on Facebook live.
With a bit of technical help from his daughter, Courtney, Rivera joined the webcast from his home, where he has spent a lot of time with his coaches on Zoom calls building the priority lists for next week’s NFL draft. The team holds the second overall pick.
As is tradition with the program, the interview was conducted by “Voice of the Redskins” Larry Michael, also connecting from his home.
Rivera said the prohibition on in-person team activities because of the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 response remind him of when he took over the Carolina Panthers in 2011. That year, players were locked out during contract negotiations. He didn’t really meet his new team until the training camp opened that summer.
Over the next four weeks, the Redskins and other teams will be limited to virtual coaching sessions. Beyond that is uncertain, but, Rivera said, not unfamiliar.
“You have to be prepared, you have to a adjust,” he said.
While there is a lot of interest in how the new coaching staff will approach the season, a key part of the Chamber program is to share leadership lessons.
Rivera said growing up as the son of an Army officer and spending time on military bases provided many examples of leadership at an early age. After 36 years in the NFL (nine seasons as a player and as a coach since 1997), Rivera said he is still learning. “I made a lot of mistakes during my first years,” he said.
Particularly, he learned the importance of having the help of veteran coaches and mentors such as John Madden. His new Redskins staff is a blend of veterans and young coaches and includes Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, who has 12 years of head coaching experience; and Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner, the son of former Reskins coach Norv Turner, and Quarterbacks Coach Ken Zampese, son of offensive mastermind Ernie Zampese.
As for the expectation for the 2020 season following a disappointing 3-13 season last year, Rivera said the main goal is to “be better.”
He wants to see the team improve and “go out there and play the right kind of football.”
“We’re going to need everybody,” he said. “Just because I am the head coach doesn’t mean everything is going to work.”
And he hopes to win back the Redskins’ fanbase that has suffered through disappointment in recent years. So far, he is feeling that support in his new community, even being recognized recently while shopping in an area pet store with his face covered by a protective mask.
You can watch the interview here.