Riverboat Ron paves way for Hispanic NFL coaches

   October 13th, 2016             Blog

Director of Administration Anthony Owens describes how his love of football intertwines with celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. Read about Ron Riveria, the NFL Head Coach.

Nov 18, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stands on the sidelines during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

During Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to highlight Carolina Panthers, NFL Head Coach, Ron Riveria. Riveria is the third Hispanic Head Coach in the history of the National Football League (NFL). Tom Flores, one of the two previous head coaches, coached the Los Angeles /Oakland Raiders from 1979 to 1987 and the Seattle Seahawks from 1992 to 1994. Flores won a Super Bowl as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach. The only other Hispanic head coach in NFL history is Tom Fears, who coached the New Orleans Saints from 1967 to 1970. Though not as widely known, Fears was the first Mexican born player to be drafted by the NFL. He is also in the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame. While Fears has very impressive credentials, many would have a hard time answering any trivia questions about him.

Ron Riveria has two excellent role models to look up to as he carries on the mantle of Hispanics being head coaches in the NFL. Since becoming head coach of the Panthers in 2011, after two losing record seasons, he has guided the team to three consecutive playoff appearances, which also included the 2016 Super Bowl XXL (50).

Riveria has always impressed me with his style of taking chances that most coaches do not in the NFL; hence, his nickname the River Boat Ron. That was one of the reasons I wanted to watch Superbowl 50 as I wanted to see what risks Riveria would take.
During his time as a linebacker at the University of California-Berkeley, Riveria was an All-American and was a second –round draft choice of the Chicago Bears in 1984. He went on to win a SuperBowl with the Bears in 1985. Riveria started his coaching career in 1996 as a quality control coach and moved up the ranks to become a defensive coordinator in 2004 for the Chicago Bears.


The Rooney Rule, which is a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs, is a rule that most NFL fans have heard of. Most equate that rule to apply to African-Americans, but it is for all minorities and is maybe one reason Riveria was given several interviews in 2007 for head coaching openings in the NFL. Although not hired at that time, Riveria has since proven that he was made for this and is an exceptional leading the Panthers.

Here’s to Riveria for setting the standard of excellence in coaching for Hispanics and continuing to carry the torch for Hispanics, minorities and Americans.