ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Once again Sean McDermott will face one of his mentors on the opposing sideline come Sunday, this time it’s Washington head coach Ron Rivera.
“Ron has been one of my biggest mentors in this business. Ron Rivera has been a huge influence on my career and he’s taught me a lot, going to Carolina I learned a lot in those six years under Ron,” McDermott said on Monday.
While their time together with the Panthers is a huge part of their relationship, it started under Andy Reid with the Eagles as Rivera was Philadelphia’s linebackers coach and McDermott was Reid’s assistant to start.
“Our ties go all the way back to Philadelphia of course so he taught me a lot about the linebacker position when I was his QC and worked with the linebackers as well,” McDermott said.
Rivera is in his second season as Washington’s head coach coming off an NFC East title in 2020 despite finishing the year 7-9. But his first year in D.C. was met with a lot of challenges both football wise and personally. Of course there was dealing with trying to coach a new team during a pandemic and trying to build a new culture with this team. And he was also dealing with squamous-cell cancer last August and went through treatments during the season.
“I mean I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ron and his family, they’re outstanding people, people of high character. I’m glad he seems to be doing well health wise and just happy that he’s having the success that he’s had,” McDermott explained.
McDermott is in his fifth season as head coach of the Bills and once he took that position and started experiencing all that comes along with that title, he started to understand some of the decisions Rivera had to make in certain situations.
“There’s a lot of things I look back at now to our time together and you know there’s things as an assistant coach you don’t always understand why a head coach does the things that he does sometimes and I’m sure that was probably the case for Ron working under Andy and I can tell you it was the case for me working under Ron and I think that’s healthy,” McDermott said.
“Until you’re really in that position in those shoes you don’t always get the why’s and understanding of the big picture of things so my respect for Ron Rivera has grown exponentially since becoming a head coach myself. I always had respect for Ron and we have a deep friendship but that respect and admiration has grown immensely.”