Interview with Redskins coach Ron Rivera


Olivia Bunker '21

Freshman Carmen Bunker interviews Redskins coach Ron Rivera. Coach Rivera is one of three Latino head coaches in National Football League (NFL) history.

In the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears, with the 44th pick, selected Ron Rivera, All-American linebacker from the University of California. The following year under Head Coach Mike Ditka, the 1985 Bears won a Super Bowl with what remains one of the all-time dominant defenses in NFL history.
Following a successful playing career, Rivera became an NFL assistant for several teams before becoming head coach of the Carolina Panthers. In 2015, after being named NFL Coach of the Year for the second time, Rivera got the Panthers to Super Bowl 50.
One of only three Latino head coaches in NFL History, Coach Rivera joined the Washington Redskins following the 2019 season.
In March, Coach Rivera sat down for an hour-long interview in his office at Redskins Park, with W-L freshman reporter, Carmen Bunker.

Carmen Bunker RON RIVERA INTERVIEW [3/5/20]
Carmen Bunker: You went to Cal. Where else were you recruited?
Ron Rivera: Well, I grew up in a military family in a little town called Fort Ord, California. It was an old army base that’s recently been downsized to a garrison. Was in Monterrey. Coming out of high school, I was a high B grade student and so I had a lot of college scholarship offers. I had 28 offers. Everywhere from Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, most of the PAC 10. I had… all of the service academies, Army, Navy, Air Force, and then some of the major programs back East, like, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio state,
CB: Why did you pick Cal?
For a couple of reasons. One obviously was academically. It was a football program that had just had some recent success. But more importantly, it was close to home. You know, as I say, I grew up in a military family, so we’re very close knit. Back in the day, military families traveled a lot and I pretty much grew up all over the world. Fort Ord was our home base, but we had gone to Heidelberg, Germany. We’d been to Fort Lewis, Washington… Fort Meade, Maryland, and Fort Gulick, Panama.
So we traveled a lot and I just kind of felt like I wanted to stay close to my family. So I chose Cal because Fort Ord is just south of the Bay Area, and it was probably just under two hour drive, so I knew my parents would come and watch me play college football.
CB: Any regrets going to Cal?
No, no regrets at all. I actually enjoyed it. I had an opportunity to meet my wife there. I got my education and graduated and I played major college football and was drafted into the NFL.
CB: So as you mentioned, you’re drafted into the NFL, and one of the all time great teams is the ‘85 Bears. What was it like when you first stepped on an NFL field?
It was kind of a dream come true…you know, you grow up… I didn’t necessarily grow up aspiring to be a professional football player. I grew up hoping to be. I kind of had a little simple plan. From playing high school football to hoping I’d get a chance to go play college football, then get a chance to make the travel team, and then become a starter, and then see what happens after that. And I seemed to accomplish all that very quickly to where I became a starter by my sophomore year. And that’s when I begin to realize, “Wow, I’ve got a pretty good chance.” And then going into my senior year, I was a preseason all-American, and then by the end of my senior year, I was a consensus all-American. So I had a lot of success going through my college career.
CB: What was your NFL experience like?
It was it was an amazing experience mostly because a lot of positive things happened for me in terms of, I was on a Super Bowl team; I was a relatively high draft pick. I was drafted in the second round, so I pretty much had guarantees early on that I was going to be on the team. So that was a plus. I got paid very well. My wife and I put our money away properly. We started our family, so our experience was very positive. We made Chicago our home. We were there for what amounted to about 17 seasons. And that’s also where I started my coaching career, in Chicago.
CB: As you mentioned, you were on a Super Bowl team. What was that like?
It’s the reason, I think, you do anything in life, is to be the best. And you should always aspire to be the best at what you do, and so for us, reaching that pinnacle, and reaching it early in my career was one of those things that you … in all honesty kind of took a lot of the pressure off, because I’ve been there, I understand what it feels like and understand what it tastes like, you know? And it was a neat experience, it really was. It was everything I had hoped it to be.
CB: Who is the best player you ever played with?
Walter Payton
CB: Who’s the best player you’ve ever played against?
Marcus Allen.
You know, Walter Payton was special, and his legacy’s carried on through the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Walter, you know, unfortunately passed of cancer. But he was, in a lot of ways, he’s responsible for me being here as a coach. Because it was him who kind of suggested that I should sit down and talk to him about it. Because at the time he was on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Bears. So he had some influence with the ownership. And so he and I talked about what I wanted to do. I wanted to coach and he helped facilitate the meeting that gave me the opportunity to get into coaching.
CB: How was playing for Mike Ditka?
[Chuckles] It was extremely… interesting. It was fun. It was hard. It was tough, tough love. You know, Coach Ditka to me was special and it kind of helped, I think, mold my attitudes towards being a coach and that is, Coach Ditka played and he played at a very high level. Coach Ditka was a Hall of Fame tight end in the NFL. And he and I developed a very good relationship for a couple of reasons. One is, we had a connection, but two is, I was also the Bears’ player rep for the players’ union. So he and I, we talked a lot about that stuff.
And I always used to ask him about certain things, and he asked me one day, “Why aren’t you afraid or intimidated by me?” And I said, “Because I see the relationship. I have the understanding of who you are,” I said, “but something I don’t understand is why do you coach us the way you do? Why do you push us so hard?” He looked at me, he said, “Look, I would never ask you to do anything that I never did. I believe you guys can do it, because I know I could do it.” So that’s kind of where that came from as far as my philosophy with our players, is that I’m going to push you because I did it and I believe you can do it.
CB: What is the most memorable game besides the Superbowl?
Wow. I could honestly say my first start in the NFL. It was against the Detroit Lions and Mike Singletary, our future Hall of Fame middle linebacker at the time, got hurt.
So I can honestly say during Mike’s entire career as the starting middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears, I was the only other guy to start at the middle linebacker position. But I played really well that day. I had a really big game. It was kind of a breakout game for me, it was my first career start in the NFL. We won the game and I played well, and Coach Ditka gave me a game ball for that performance.
CB: What did you like best about your playing career?
It was that I played. I got the opportunity. People don’t realize how hard it is, how special it is, to play in the NFL. You know, there’s only about 1,500 guys play each year. And so that’s a very finite number of people, and it’s set. And so there is a transition rate of about 300 guys a year that make it to the league, but then 300 guys that leave the league. So it is special that you get the opportunity to play. I feel very, very blessed to have had that opportunity.
CB: You coached the Panthers and now the Redskins. What is the best part of the job?
The people. It’s like from when I played, one of the things I really do still enjoy, and still appreciate, is having played the game. Because I have some tremendous friendships that I’ve made along the way and stay in touch with a lot of those guys. Now, as a coach, you work with a lot of young men and I feel the responsibility of trying to help make them successful, help mold them as people. I take a lot of pride in being able to do that. And I think in some ways I feel like a teacher, you know, because we have to mentor these young men. We have to help them. And I also feel the responsibility for the rest of the facility, the rest of the building. The team is not just the players, but you have the support and you have the business side of it. And it’s important that I understand what my responsibilities are.
CB: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Getting to know and understand all of the people. There’s a lot of diverse personalities. Winning and losing takes care of itself. How you win, how you lose, that’s going to be up to how you do things and the way you establish your core values. What I say, and what I’ve told the players, I did the same. I did it in Carolina, I’m going to do it here. That is, our vision is to develop and grow a sustainable winning culture. But within that culture, we have a set certain set of core values. And if we can live our life according to those core values, you can play for this football team and you can help us in terms of developing and building our culture.
CB: How would you describe your coaching style?
I’m a little bit of everything. And again, like I said, the one thing that I tried to do is understand the players. And so by understanding the players, I know how I can coach some guys. Some guys, you can get hard on ‘em and get after ‘em and chew ‘em out, and other guys, you have to sit down and put your arm around ‘em and console ‘em. You have to egg some guys on; you have to push some guys. You have to back off on some guys. So I try to fit the situation. I think sometimes I have to get after the whole team.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the Amazon prime show, but it’s, PG-13, I think, or 16. So there’s a little bit of language I’m not happy about. In it there’s a pretty good description of the way I think sometimes you have to be, and they captured it pretty good on that show. But I do think you have to reflect the situation. You know, my father, who was in the military, is a retired army officer. He went to Vietnam twice, and when I first became a head coach, one of the pieces of advice he gave me related to one of his incidents that he had when he was in Vietnam.
He was a combat engineer, but he wasn’t a combat officer in terms of the fighting. And they had a situation where he was actually the only officer around. So he had to take over and he stayed calm during the situation. And he told me, he says, “You know, Ron, you’ve got to remember one thing.” He said, “When all heck is breaking loose and it’s going crazy, people are going to look to you. And if you’re out of control, they’ll be out of control. But if you’re calm and collected, confident. It’ll reflect and everybody’ll follow suit.”
CB: Who’s the best player you’ve coached?
Wow. I’ve been fortunate, I’ve coached a lot of good players. I’ve been around a lot of really good players. That would be very unfair to say. I have some favorites, but to say one guy was the best, that’s hard. But the one thing I can say is I believe I played with the best player for my era, and that was Walter Payton.
But I’ve had a couple of guys that are in the Hall of Fame that I helped coach, so I feel pretty blessed and honored for that.
CB: So before you became a head coach, you were an assistant coach. How does that differ from being The Coach?
Responsibility more than anything else. I started from the bottom and worked my way to the top. I came in as a volunteer assistant. I didn’t get paid for six months because it was something I wanted, and so I volunteered to do an internship that didn’t pay, but going into the internship, I said to myself, I have to make them want me, I have to make them need me. And so I did the little things. I did everything from make coffee to make copies; to go pick up lunch, to set up the projectors, to work the Power Points, to draw the plays. I did stuff that usually other people do, but it took away their duties, and it gave them opportunities to do more. So I made myself indispensible, basically, is what I did. And then halfway through this volunteer program, I wrote a job description and a job proposal and I presented it to the team leadership.
CB: Since you’re a coach, do you draft for the need of a position or the best available player?
[Chuckles] Don’t tell anybody. We actually, you look at the board, and you really do look at what your needs are. Those will always play into your thought process, or at least for me. But you also look at the best player available. This year’s draft has a couple that are probably right at the top edge, and then a couple of guys that are necessarily right below them. And so what’s going to happen is, we’re going to look at that and we’re going to compare those to the needs. Then you’ve got to look at the examples and what we call comps. We have to compare those guys to the guys that came before in other places and say, wow, look at how that player impacted that situation. Can he do the same thing for us? So we’ll look at the board like that. I know it’s kind of an on the fence answer, but it is how our approach will be, because we’ll have some outstanding needs, obviously, but if that outstanding player up here is available, and he will fit a need, not a major need, but a need, we could still take him.
CB: So when you’re building a team, do you look more for the draft or free agents?
Well, I think it has to be a combination of both. Over the long term, it’s about the draft, because of the way salary cap impacts how much money you have to spend. The longer you can have a drafted player on his original contract, the less expensive he’ll be. Whereas if you get a free agent, the free agent’s price is going to be up there already, so it’s going to impact you a lot more.
For an example, let’s say you draft a … well, I gotta be careful, I don’t want to put the wrong position out there. Let’s say, you draft a guard, okay? And you draft him and he’s slotted and he’s going to make $20 million. Okay. That’s over his first four years. So the average is 5 million a year.
Whereas if you sign a free agent guard right now in this market, you’re going to pay anywhere between 12 and 15 million a year. So already then, let’s say you’ve given the max 15, or you could have a rookie at five, or veteran at 15 which one do you want to take? So you have to be able to split your money up properly and say, okay, we’re going to spend this much here. That means we’ve got to spend this much here off the draft. And that’s how we have to look at it. So we’ve identified probably six core positions, and we’ve said, okay, we’ll go out there and we’ll try to fit three of those. And then back to your original question. Okay, so let’s say we fit those three. Now we’ve got to fit the other three that we didn’t. And the only way to do that is to draft. And they’ve got to be able to offset what we spend here with free agency, with what we’re going to spend through the draft.
CB: So what’s it like in the War Room on Draft Day?
[chuckles] It’s interesting because… you just sit there… now, I’ve been on every position. We had the number one pick one year, THE number one pick. So I already knew what we were doing, so there was no secret to me. But what happens when you don’t? You have to react. We have the number two pick here. But we have to still react to what Cincinnati does in front of us. So everybody’s going to be kind of on edge, and it can be total elation if they take the right guy and leave the right guy for us. Or it could be a little bit of concern if they take the wrong guy. Now we’ve got to decide what we want to do.
Now when you’re later in the draft, like in the middle of the draft, you have to wait and watch players that you’re hoping are going to be there and they slowly disappear. Now you’re getting a little … now you really truly get anxious. But it could be … emotions go like this, the whole draft because you’re waiting because you’re hoping, “Oh God, I hope he’s there,” and, all of a sudden, he gets picked or he’s there and you get to pick him, and you’re excited
CB: What player ended up being the biggest surprise, positive-wise?
As far as drafted players? I gotta think about that. That’s a tough one. I mean, there’s a lot of guys that you don’t anticipate really being, you know that player up there. And so when you have those guys and you see them have success, you get really excited for them because they’re having that kind of success.
Wow. I had a player in Chicago, a young man named Alex Brown, and Alex was one of those guys that was always on the cusp. And when he reached up to the next level, it was very gratifying. Was it a surprise? I don’t know if it was a surprise as much as it was just it was gratifying to see him succeed. I think that’s one of the really cool things is to have guys that do accomplish more than I think sometimes you anticipate them having.
CB: So your wife is named, Stephanie, correct?
Y es.
CB: How long have you been married?
Stephanie and I have been married 34 years now.
CB: You have two kids…
Christopher’s 33, and Courtney is 26.
CB: Any sports interests?
Well, Christopher played growing up, played all the sports, but, he decided in the middle of his high school career was that that wasn’t gonna be what’s going to drive him. So Christopher got into theater, live production. Christopher is a production manager today. He’s getting his MBA. He worked for ten years for Disney, was in China when they built Disney Shanghai. He was part of that crew.
Courtney, actually played college softball, played at UCLA. She played for team Puerto Rico in the Pan Am games and the World Cup. She actually now works in our social media department. She started that in 2015, when I was in Carolina. They had just started the social media department and they were looking for content producers. She knew how to do it, so they hired her as a content producer and she’s been doing that ever since.
CB: Do you speak Spanish at home?
No. My dad did. I could understand what he wanted. I could tell by his voice inflections what he was saying. But, no, actually, I grew up, like I said all over. And my mother’s side of the family is Mexican.
CB: So as you mentioned, you grew up in the military… What’s the favorite place you’ve stayed or lived?
Well, I … probably the best place, for us as kids, was Fort Gulick, Panama. It’s on the Atlantic side of the canal. The canal actually goes north to south. A lot of people have this misnomer that the canal goes east to west, but it actually goes north to south. And so when you were there, as kids, right at that perfect age, it was a huge adventure because everything was new. We had a tropical rain forest that basically surrounded everything. We had this gigantic manmade lake called Gatun Lake, which connected the two locks together so that the ships could cross through. There was a lot of history there with the Spanish conquistadors, the pirates. It was really a neat place to be.
CB: Do you have any pets?
Oh, yeah. We’ve got two dogs now. Stephanie and I had a lot of pets in our marriage. We’ve had a total of five dogs. We have two now. The other ones have passed of old age, thank goodness, but we have a golden retriever. And then one of Stephanie’s passions is the Humane Society. And so we have a rescue—the golden retriever’s name is Tahoe—and the rescue, she’s a lab- terrier mix. Her name is Sierra. Yeah, we’ve been pet people the whole time.
CB: What was the adjustment like to DC?
So far it’s been interesting just learning everything. The biggest thing is Charlotte is quaint. It’s not as populated. I think there was like about 850,000 people in Mecklenburg County, and I think in Loudon there’s got to be over a million easily.
I took Stephanie to dinner when we first got here and we went to a restaurant and I couldn’t believe how loud it was because there’s so many people. When you go to the restaurants in Charlotte, maybe they’re crowded, but not like this. I mean, this is crowded and it was very loud and that was probably one of the things getting used to. It’s just that and getting used to the traffic. I had to go downtown for something and I wanted to drive just to see what it was like, and that was a big mistake because of the traffic and then trying to find someplace to park. That was also another big mistake. But I made it back. But it’s been good. Like I said, the biggest thing is really just getting used to where I’m going, all the new sights. And more so than anything else, just the people. How many there are.
CB: So with the Redskins, it’s a proud franchise with an educated fan base. What does the tradition mean to you?
It means a lot. It was founded in 1932, and it’s one of the traditional franchises which has had a tremendous amount of success. It does have a tremendous fan base. I remember that from when I played and when I started coaching. Just the way the fan base was, how supportive they were. When I played, they had a tremendous amount of success under Coach Gibbs. And that’s one of the things that I get and understand about this. Because I started my career, one of the original franchises being the Bears, and I understood what it meant to have a traditional fan base.
And so I just believe that, we have to, first of all, we have to be successful again to get them to support us, but we’ve got to get them to support us. We have to bring our fan base back and rebuild and reconnect with that traditional fan base.
CB: Like the Bears and the Redskins, it’s a traditional team, how does that differ from the Panthers, who are a newer team?
It was that the fan base you kind of had to educate them to understand what it’s like. Charlotte is nestled in between where there’s a lot of good college athletics, men’s and women’s sports all over. But it was around UNC, and Duke…Clemson and South Carolina. And so kind of nestled in that area and we were right in the middle. Plus, traditionally there was a huge fan base of Redskins fans… Falcon fans for the professional football until the Panthers came in. So we had to win over a lot of people. We had to kind of get them to understand and follow professional football a little bit more, a little more closely. And that’s it. But as fan bases go, once we got them to believe in us and support us, they really got behind us.
CB: What are your goals for the season?
To win.
CB: What’s the biggest need, position-wise?
Well, I think as we look at it, I don’t wanna tip my hand here. [chuckles] I’ll give you a few of them. We have to shore up our offensive line. We have to find a tight end. We’ve lost two of our veteran guys to retirement. We have to shore up our linebacker depth. And we have to establish our starting secondary.
CB: You are visible as Latino and a “minority.” Do you think about that often?
When I first got started I did. What I wanted was, I wanted people to think of me as a coach that just happened to be Latino. I didn’t want to go in and say, “I’m a Latino coach. You got to give me, you know, my due.” I wanted to earn that. But I do take pride in the fact that I do represent a community. And so that’s why I carry myself the way I do.
It’s interesting because in a game where, you know, when I played, you were talking about minorities, I was minority. Okay. I mean, I was probably one of about 10, 15 guys in the league that were Hispanic and playing professional football. And today’s has gotten a little bit bigger. And so I did feel it. I really felt it in college, when I was in college football, being a minority. And that was something that really stood out in my mind. And my goal has always been to just be considered a football coach more so than anything else.
CB: With you being in the public eye, do you have a feeling you have to take extra responsibility to show it?
Yes, I do. It is a responsibility. So many people look to you. It’s kind of interesting because, in Carolina, I felt it, and you know, I have political beliefs and all that, and I’ve been asked to support specific candidates, and I won’t do it publicly because I don’t believe it’s in my best interest or the community’s best interest for me to speak that way. But when it comes to behavior, setting examples, being the right type of person, those things I take seriously. I have a set of rules. The player breaks the rules, I have to discipline the players. One of the interesting things that happened was, even my starting quarterback, Cam Newton broke a rule and I treated him just like I would any other player. So I had to bench him. And the thing that was amazing was the response I got from educators and coaches. People of authority that wrote me emails and sent me notes saying, “Wow, that was an amazing thing that you benched your star quarterback.” And it’s funny because if you asked my wife… I told Stephanie, “I don’t get it.”
And she said, “Ron, if you can bench him, what’s that tell all these kids that are watching? That if they step out of line they’re going to get disciplined too.” So I kind of realized that I do set the tone. I do set the example. And I said very important responsibility that I have.
And so I’ve gotta be able to do that. I’ve got to follow through, but at the end of the day too, I have to be accountable. So if I make a mistake, I have to be willing to step up and admit the mistake and then correct it. I mean, I’m not infallible. I tell folks here, there are a lot of people, “Oh boy, we’re so glad you’re here.” I say, “Let me tell you something. Just because I’m here doesn’t mean we’re going to win. I mean, it’s going to be a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment from a lot of people.” We need a lot of help, and that’s kind of the way I put it. It’s not just going to be me. I mean, it’s, it’s the coaches, it’s the players, it’s the support, and it’s the fans.
CB: You’ve spoken a lot about winning. Are you just another coach trying to win? Or is there another part of it?
There’s another part of it. I’m trying to win the right way. I don’t believe, in pushing the envelope. I don’t believe in crossing over and then crossing back. I don’t. I believe that there’s one way to do it. You line up and you find out who the best player is. That’s the way I’ve always felt, and that’s the way I’ll always do things. I just don’t think that that’s the right way, that’s the right message. To tell people that it’s okay to do this to win. It’s not. You’d have to do it the right way.
CB: With your team, you have leadership come and go… What does leadership mean to you?
I think leadership is, really, it’s gotta be an extension of the person at the top. This organization, the person at the top is Mr. Snyder, and then it’s me, and the people that we work with. But leadership has to be the one that’s willing to set the example. Leadership has to be the one that’s willing to accept the responsibility. I really believe that’s really, really important. The leadership has to be able to make sure that the culture is correct.
CB: How would you say a person develops these skills or attributes?
I think it’s funny because some people say, “Aw, he’s a born natural leader.” I don’t think that’s true. I think a person develops some from his environment or her environment. I think leaders are people that have it as a personality trait. You can teach a person to be a leader, but you can’t teach a person to be a good leader, a bad leader. Those are decisions that they make. I think being a leader, more so than anything else is, is also the want to–the desire to—to be able to put yourself out in front and be willing to… I think people are just enough afraid to not really try, and that’s something that I’m always concerned with. There are some people that can really step up, but, “It’s just that I put myself out there and I fail….” But you know what people have said. Through failure comes success.
CB: Who are some of the most effective leaders you’ve known?
I’ve got a book shelf over there. I got a bookshelf over there (pointing to opposite wall) of people that I like to read. Winston Churchill is probably one of my favorites. I absolutely love reading Churchill. I still do to this day. I actually got another book up there that I’m reading, and I’m one of those that really does subscribe to the notion that, you should never stop learning. I really believe that. But, one of my favorites is Winston Churchill. I’ve read Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin… I’ve read a lot of the sports leaders. One of my favorites is John Wooden, the famous basketball coach from UCLA. And… God. I read God’s little handbooks and they’re really kind of cool because what they’ve done is, they’ve taken these little Proverbs and they’ve made them into everyday sayings and they’re… they’re simple.
I mean, I’m Catholic, but I don’t wear it on my sleeve because I think it’s a very personal thing. And so, I’m not going to go out there and beat a drum for it. But I’m going to also know that that’s where I draw some of myself personal strength from.
CB: If you wouldn’t mind doing a quick Two-Minute drill… I just run through some questions and you just answer first thing that comes to mind, okay?
CB: So if you’re to build a team around one player of all time, who would it be?

One player of all time?
Oh, definitely be a quarterback. There’s a really good chance it would be somebody like Joe Montana.
CB: What’s a word or phrase you dislike the most?
That person’s stupid. That person’s dumb. That person can’t learn. Especially from a coach, because to me, as a coach, I have to find a way to connect. So if I as a coach come to you and say that player’s dumb, he can’t learn, I’m indicting myself. Have I done everything I can to help develop that person? That’s my job. I’ve got to find a way to connect.
CB: Favorite non-NFL sport or player?
Other than my wife and my daughter? Gosh, growing up it was Roberto Clemente. That was my idol. And one of the things that shook me about him was he was a great athlete, great baseball player, and he died in service to others. He was bringing relief supplies to Managua, Nicaragua. And in fact, my father, we were in Fort Gulick, Panama, when it happened. And his engineering company was sent there to help afterwards. My father being Puerto Rican that really shook him up.
CB: What’s your favorite book?
Oh, wow. Favorite book … I recently… well, gosh, there’s a book called Citizens of London. I have two favorite books, now that I think of it. Citizens of London is about the beginning of World War II, and how a group of Americans became known as Citizens of London. I don’t have it here. I have it actually back in Charlotte. There’s a really good book. But my other favorite book, and I’ve been invited to do the National Reading Week at some of the elementary schools, is Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! So I take that book and I read it to the kids. Those are my two favorites.
CB: What’s a place you want to visit that haven’t already?
CB:I’ve been there.
All right. Where’d you stay? Barcelona?
CB: Valencia.
Really? That’s one of the places we want to go. My mother’s family’s traced their roots back to Spain. I forgot the name of the town—got to get it from my aunt—found that the family’s surname comes from Cordoba. So we had a huge family reunion about three years ago in California, and that’s what they traced it all back to, so someday we’re going to go back.
CB: What’s a skill you wish you had, but don’t?
Hah! I wish I understood the IT world much better. Oh my gosh. Thank goodness we have these millennials running around here that do all the IT stuff, for me. Thank goodness for my daughter who knows how to do all that stuff.
CB: Mountain view or beach view?
I got a little bit of both. We have a home in Lake Tahoe, California, and we have a home at Pebble Beach, California. So I got both. I really do.
CB: What’s your favorite snack?
My favorite snack? Cookies.
CB: Who’s your favorite U.S. president?
Oh, wow. That’s a great question. Man, that is a tough one… because, I mean, they all have… I have Teddy Roosevelt up there on that wall, which I truly, truly do appreciate. I’ve got Thomas Jefferson stuff at home. Abraham Lincoln. There’s a great speech Abraham Lincoln gave that applies to today. And I mean, I have it in my phone. And it, it really speaks about, you can’t take away from others to give to others because you were lessening the work that one does and you’re telling others not to work. It’s a terrific speech, it really is and I have that. Gosh. Then, Ronald Reagan.
CB: Are you an iPhone user or Android user?
iPhone, only because my kids know the iPhone. And we own Apple stock.
CB: Favorite city?
Favorite city. Oh my gosh. I love London. I love Paris, too. That’s a tough one. Completely fascinated by Rome. Chicago… San Francisco. I don’t have one favorite.
CB: What’s the best place to play an away game?
Oh, Green Bay. I love the history there. I used to love Chicago until they put that new stadium in place. Green Bay… the history of football. They have their Hall of Fame up there built. If you ever want to see what… kind of get a feel and flavor, that’s really cool.
CB: What’s the worst place to play an away game?
Philadelphia. I coached there for five years. And the fans are not very nice, so it doesn’t make for a good experience, win or lose. You just wish they weren’t as obnoxious as they are.
CB: Favorite movie?
I’ve got a couple: “Miracle on 34th Street” for Christmas.” Little bit of a John Wayne fan. A movie called “The Quiet Man.” Those are two of my favorites.
CB: Favorite restaurant?
Oh, goodness. There is a Mexican restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, called Azteca, and it’s owned by a Mexican family, and the food is authentic as if my mom cooked it.
CB: Favorite vacation?
Oh, gosh. Well, we actually gosh, we’ve taking some really good ones in the family. Last year I took the family to Italy. We got to go to Rome. That was really cool. Few years before that, I took the family to Paris. That was cool. And then Stephanie and I went on one of those Viking cruises down the Rhine river. I just, I love Europe. I really do.
CB: What is something you wish had you wish you had done in high school, but didn’t?
Even though I was a good student, I should’ve been a better student. I wish I would’ve stayed with my Spanish. That’s another thing to tell kids. Now’s the time, do it now.
CB: No further questions, but anything else you want to add?
Yeah. You know, you asked earlier about Stephanie. Stephanie and I’ve been married 34 years. And when we first were married, she had plans. She wanted to do a lot, and we had kids early, but I didn’t want to stop her from doing what she wanted to do. She wanted to coach too, so she coached collegiately and professional women’s basketball. She played basketball in college. And so I wanted to give her that opportunity. I wanted to support her in that. Because later in our lives, I didn’t want her to come back and say, “God, I wish I would’ve.” And when she stopped, she stopped because at that time the kids needed her and that’s why she stopped. But she chose.
And me becoming a coach was part of us, because when I first got out of football, I wasn’t sure. I had graduated, I had my education, but I just wasn’t sure. And so I tried different things that really just didn’t suit me. And she’s the one who said, “You know you need structure in your life and football gave you it. You need to really think about coaching.” And that’s right about the time when Walter Payton also suggested that. And so that’s how we all got started. And so today no matter what I do, I did it when I was a player, and I do it now as a coach. I will sign language to her “I love you” when I walk onto the field before every game.
CB: That’s so sweet. Thank you, that’s all.