Puerto Rican Roots Head Coach Leads Panthers Into Play-Offs

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Head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers has Puerto Rico roots. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1st quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

By NAN Sports Editor

News Americas, CHARLOTTE, NC, Fri. Jan. 8, 2016: Football team the Carolina Panthers now has the best record in the NFL this year and Latin immigrant roots head coach Ron Rivera, who still believes his team is regarded as an uninvited guest to the playoff party, has played a big part in the 15-1 record. Here are 10 facts you should know about Rivera:

1: Ron Rivera was born to a Puerto Rican-father and a Mexican roots mother in Fort Ord, California in 1962. His father was a commissioned officer in the United States Army and was stationed in California, where he met his future wife, Rivera’s mother.

2: Rivera is the second youngest of four boys in his family and grew up in a military family and spent parts of his childhood in Panama, Germany, Maryland, Washington D.C.

3: Hs family finally settled in Monterey, California, where he began playing football and finished high school. He was the MVP of the 1984 East-West Shrine Game and was the country’s top linesman in 1983 winning the Lombardi Award.

After graduating, Rivera won a scholarship to UC-Berkeley to play football for the Golden Bears. At UC-Berkeley, Ron was an All-American linebacker and broke several school records. An All-American at the University of California, Rivera finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in sacks with 22 and tackles with 336.

4: Rivera’s idol growing up was Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente.

5: Rivera is the first Puerto Rican and Mexican American to play on a victorious Super Bowl championship team. In the 1984 NFL Draft, Rivera was selected in the second round by the Chicago Bears. During the 1985 season, Rivera played in Super Bowl XX, where the Bears beat the New England Patriots, 46-10 in Florida.

6: Rivera worked as a TV analyst covering the Bears and a little college football before moving on to work for the Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the San Diego Chargers.

7: Rivera is only the fourth Latino to be an NFL head coach. He was name head coach of the Carolina Panthers on January 11, 2011, inheriting a 2-14 team as a rookie head coach in 2011 and guiding it back to relevance today.

8:  Rivera was honored as the 2013 AP NFL Coach of the Year. The Panther’s momentum in Rivera’s fifth season is easily the best regular-season start in franchise history and sets a new franchise record for wins in a season. His nickname is “Riverboat Ron” as he seemingly showed the instincts of a riverboat gambler.

9: Rivera was named the Bears’ Man of the Year in 1988 and earned the club’s Ed Block Courage Award in 1989. He has carried that same community commitment to coaching, sponsoring a bowling tournament to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, USO and Humane Society.

10: Rivera’s current salary is about US$4-5 million per year. His wife Stephanie is a former coach for the Washington Mystics basketball team. The two have been married since 1984 and have two children, Courtney and Christopher, both in their twenties.

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