Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 59 Days with Ron Rivera

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears / RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears, Ron Rivera
Chicago Bears, Ron Rivera / Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera becomes coach with Chicago Bears, Panthers, Commanders

Rivera had a terrific, Super-Bowl winning career as a player, but only five years after retiring from the NFL, Chico came back to the league in a different capacity where he would earn another nickname, Riverboat Ron.

In 1997, Rivera joined the Bears coaching staff as a defensive quality control assistant, where he remained in this role for two seasons. Unfortunately, the team struggled during this time, finishing with just eight total wins and two bottom-place NFC Central finishes. Following the 1998 season, Dave Wannstedt's staff, including Rivera, were relieved of their positions.

Rivera continued his coaching career working with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 to 2003, serving as a linebackers coach, before returning to the Chicago Bears in 2004, where he served as the defensive coordinator under new head coach Lovie Smith. Rivera was only the DC for the Bears from 2004 to 2006, but the team dominated defensively during this stretch. Under Rivera's guidance, the Chicago Bears, led by dominant linebackers like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, earned two first-place division finishes, and even reached the Super Bowl following 2006 almost solely on the shoulders of the team's defensive and special teams units.

After his return to Chicago, his third stint with the organization, Rivera worked as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator with the Chargers from 2007 to 2010. In 2011, Rivera took the next big step as a coach, becoming the Carolina Panthers head coach, just the fourth in team history. Rivera's hire as a head coach also made him just the third Latino head coach in NFL history.