Rivera: "We Wanted to Listen to Them"

Ron Rivera, Jason Wright and the WFT cancelled a FedExField practice Thursday so they could work in a different way. On themselves.
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Ron Rivera was scheduled to coach at FedExField on Thursday as a Washington head coach for the first time. 

Instead he was some 50 miles away in a building that has seen many bad days. 

But Thursday, by many accounts, was a good day for healing and brotherhood. A fraternity of football constantly dodging criticism from everywhere. 

On Friday, it was back to work in a different way but the day before was still productive.

"We decided not to have practice, decided not to have a walk through," Rivera explained in a video conference call with reporters including SI.com. "Instead, we had a conversation with our players. We created an opportunity for them to have a forum and a discussion as to what’s been going on in our world today, what it’s like and how they’re feeling. We wanted to listen to them, we wanted to hear them and we wanted to give them an opportunity to have a voice."

Things have clearly changed in the building. Adults are in charge, as I often say. As long as they can keep Dan Snyder at bay, real progress is being made in the philosophy. 

The horrifying issues that we are all dealing with as a society must be confronted and dealt with. It's the only way you heal and change. 

Rivera said his players talked about actionable change. 

"They were challenged to come up with a cause, come up with something we can do," Rivera said. "It’s been interesting. I had a couple conversations already with a couple guys that have put some things into action. So, we’ll see what they come up with. 

"We’ve pledged our support to it. Again, we talked about finding one thing we can truly use as our spearhead as we go forward. We can support a lot of different things, but something that’s truly ours would be, a neat way to handle it, and I think that’s what the players are interested in doing.”

There are many social causes players can support and pledge money too. It's really about time and the constant message to today's youth that is growing up angry and more hostile that needs to be addressed. 

How do we stop rogue police officers from doing horrible things that have played out right in front of our eyes, touching off protests and more carnage. 

That's what has to be addressed and fixed and honestly I don't know how to do that, other than continuously pumping money, time and awareness into the subject matter. 

There's no timetable according to Rivera but here's one thing that needs to happen - they need to have more regular meetings and expressions of thought. 

I was told that some of the meetings and town hall sessions were short, disorganized and largely unproductive. 

It sounds like this one struck the right tone. 

From a football sense, because this still is a football team and they have to depend on each other, a societal issue like this could absolutely bring them closer. 

“I hope so. I know in the past when I’ve done this as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach, it’s been very positive. That was the overall feeling I got," Rivera said. 

" I thought our guys, again like I said, handled it very well. I thought they handled the situation very well, but you never know. We’ll see, though. I think our guys were right on point with the conversation they had together.”

After Friday mornings practice here at the INOVA Sports Performance Center, Rivera attributed some of the general sloppiness to guys still dealing with heavy emotions and to two days off of the field. 

Who knows where we go from here but clearly things are done differently in the organization, just as they are very different in the world. 

Chris Russell is the Publisher of this site, a part of SI.com. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Washington Football Team" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621