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The pay is good, but every NFL coach knows that his job is on the line 16 times a year. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is no room for the compassion and concern that Joe Judge of the New York Giants is showing for NFC East rival Ron Rivera.

Joe Judge and Ron Rivera face major rebuilding projects

Joe Judge and Ron Rivera may be going about their work 200 miles apart this month as each prepares for the 2020 NFL season, but the two share a connection. Each is in his first season as the head coach of an NFC East franchise badly in need of a transformation.

Judge comes to the New York Giants from his stint as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots. He inherited a strong one-two punch on offense with quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. However, the offensive line and pretty much the entire defense were major problems in 2019 that the franchise’s second consecutive solid draft might not be able to fix completely this fall.

Rivera is the more seasoned coach. He captured three NFC South titles in nine years with the Carolina Panthers that ended with a firing at the three-quarter mark of the 2019 season. Rivera accepted the Washington Football Team job knowing there were multiple problems on the field. He then quickly found himself dealing with the franchise’s drama off of it.

Ron Rivera’s startling health disclosure

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera, 58, disclosed on Aug. 20 that he has squamous cell carcinoma. An announcement by the team said the cancer is in a lymph node and that Rivera detected the problem. The disease is in an early stage and considered “very treatable and curable,” according to the statement from the team.

Rivera told ESPN, which first reported the news, that he expects to continue coaching. If Rivera needs time away, the Washington staff includes Jack De Rio, a former defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers and himself previously twice a head coach.

When reached by a reporter who covered the Panthers during his tenure, Rivera had a three-word message for concerned fans and friends: “We got this.”

Tweeted ex-Panthers tight end Greg Olsen: “We love you coach. You have so many people in your corner. You always looked out for us. Now it’s our turn.”

Joe Judge’s heartfelt message of support for a colleague

Football may be a sport, but coaching is a business. The men in charge of teams on Sunday afternoons earn their living by outmaneuvering the guy on the other sideline to win games.

That doesn’t mean that there cannot be friendship and mutual respect for a peer. That much is apparent from first-year New York Giants head coach Joe Judge’s message of support to Ron Rivera.

Sharing his thoughts on Twitter, Judge acknowledged that “we compete against each other on a weekly basis, there are rivalries within the division.” However, he added, “When you hear news like this, you’re all on the same team and we’re all really, truly pulling for each other.”

The Giants and the Washington Football Team are scheduled to play each other on Oct. 18 and Nov. 8.

 “I look forward to seeing him this fall on the field competing and getting well,” Judge wrote.


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