- The Washington Times
Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera was named the recipient of the NFL’s Salute to Service Award on Wednesday.

Rivera will be recognized for the award, which acknowledges what the league says are “the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL community to honor and support members of the military community,” during Thursday’s NFL Honors ceremony. As part of winning the reward, USAA will donate $25,000 in Rivera’s honor to aid societies representing each of the military branches, while the NFL will match the donation to a military charity of the coach’s choice. 

Rivera holds strong ties to the military as his father served as an officer in the Marines for 32 years, leading the coach to credit his leadership style for his military upbringing. 

“During his time as an NFL head coach, Ron Rivera has set the standard for military appreciation, helping educate an entire generation of NFL community members on the importance of supporting our military, veterans, and their families,” said retired Vice Admiral John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs, in a statement. “Having grown up in a military family, Coach Rivera understands sacrifice and what it means to serve, and we thank him for carrying his service of our military forward, as we honor him as the recipient of this year’s Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.”

Rivera, the 12th winner of the award, said in a statement that it was a “tremendous honor” to be this year’s recipient. 

Since arriving in Washington in 2020, Rivera has routinely met with military families — hosting them at the team’s facility in Ashburn. Last May, he and other members from the organization surprised departing troops at BWI airport with care packages.

The coach was one of 32 nominees as every team puts up a member — typically a coach, player or executive — of its organization for the award.

“Having grown up in a military household, I experienced the sacrifices that military members and their families must make firsthand, and I have always wanted to use my platform to raise awareness and assist the great men and women of our armed forces and their families,” Rivera said in a statement. 

The Commanders also honored Rivera by having his family and friends surprise him with the news. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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