Ron Rivera Discusses What Goes Into The Risky Decisions That Make Him Known As 'Riverboat Ron'

On today's Pardon My Take... RON RIVERA! Grit Week 2021 continues as the Head Coach of the Washington Football Team joined Mr. Cat and Mr. Commenter live from WFT Camp in Ashburn, Virginia to discuss what Coach Rivera has learned from guys like Mike Ditka and John Madden, why he took out the ping pong table at the team facility, the elite defense the squad has this year, and much more. 

If you are a football fan, you know that Coach Rivera goes by the nickname, "Riverboat Ron." So, how does Coach Rivera decide whether or not he is going to make a risky decision for his football team? He broke that down with Big Cat and PFT on today's show:

Mr. Cat: My question was going to be, "What's your biggest regret in your career and why is it when you tried to be 'Analytical Ron,'" the worst nickname ever, when you have the best nickname ever in Riverboat Ron? Because you do remember that, you tried to get everyone to call you that, and that was terrible. I think I had a tweet, I looked back, and it was like, "Ron Rivera is trying to give himself the worst nickname of all-time, "Analytical Ron." Riverboat Ron is incredible. I want to play for Riverboat Ron.

Ron Rivera: Yeah, it does roll off your tongue, and God bless her, my wife, she went ahead and she copy wrote that whole thing. We got a logo for it, it's over on that Club Car, we put the logo on it, you see it right there?

Mr. Cat: "Riverboat Ron." So, do you say to yourself every now and then, like, alright, it's a situation late in the fourth, you could go for it, you could punt, you could play it the safe way, and you're like, "Hey, you're Riverboat Ron. Let's do this."

Ron Rivera: I don't put it that way. I do think about it at some of the strangest moments. And it's funny because one of the checklist things I go through is, "When would I do that?" I have this little checklist that myself and my Chief of Staff that we review. And as I go through it, one of the questions is, "Am I going for it on 4th down? Where are we going for it? Are we going for two?" So, it's thought out before we get into it.  But to go back to your question, because I had a good answer, I can't remember what the question was...

Mr. Cat: The "Analytical Ron," why did you do that? That was a big misstep.

Ron Rivera: No, really what it was all about was, you know, becoming Riverboat Ron. And as you said, the biggest regret I have is not necessarily that, but the biggest regret I have is initially when I put my first coaching staff together as a head coach, I did not have a guy that had any head coaching experience on my staff. OK, and so, I really didn't have anybody to fall back on. And I would feel odd every now and then, like when I did talk to Coach Reid or I did talk to Coach Turner, you know, I was getting in their way.

Ron Rivera: And I didn't quite have that understanding or somebody to lean back on as a sounding board. So, going to see Coach Madden really kind of opened my eyes, "Hey, that's what you really need. You need a mentor. You need somebody that has been through it," which led me to, I have a bunch of sayings, this is one of my favorite settings: Don't draw me a map unless you've been there. Now, all of a sudden, I've got people that have been there telling me, "Hey, do this, think about this." That's why listening and talking to different people, like a John Madden, like a Jerry West, like a Jimmy Johnson, I mean, those things, that carries weight, because these men have done it. These men have experienced this.

Ron Rivera: And so, when you get to that position and you're looking at having to make decisions, you know, I don't want people to necessarily think that I'm just throwing it to the wind. I have truly thought these things out. I mean, Riverboat Ron gambling on a play has been thought about before the game. You know, we do this every Friday: myself and we have an analytics guy that sits down with me and a couple of coaches, and we go through situations that happened the week before to other teams. Fourth down situations, punt or go for it, field goal or go for it, two point conversion here, and we talk about those things, and we discuss it. So, you know, I just didn't want people thinking I'm just that guy that's rolling the dice every time I get up there and I got to make a decision. I mean, these things are definitely planned out, thought out. And we do see the analytic numbers as well, everybody has them. And those are just tools to help you make your decision, as far as I'm concerned.

As football fans, we almost always want our teams to roll the dice and go for it. But having the power to make that decision obviously comes with a lot of responsibility. You've got to like your chances with a man like Riverboat Ron Rivera on the sidelines. Pure GRIT.