Washington's Ron Rivera surprised with 'Coach's Corner' cutouts as cancer treatment continues

LANDOVER, Md. -- Washington coach Ron Rivera called receiving a cancer diagnosis "overwhelming." But it's scenes like Sunday before his team played the Baltimore Ravens that helped provide the necessary support to continue.

The Washington Football Team surprised Rivera with a section of approximately 400 cardboard cutouts, purchased by friends and family. They labeled the section "Coach's Corner" with another sign that read #RIVERASTRONG.

Among the cutouts: Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and two of Rivera's former players in Carolina -- linebacker Luke Kuechly and receiver Steve Smith.

Rivera visited the area nearly 2½ hours before the game. He's scheduled to talk on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday about undergoing treatment for squamous cell cancer while trying to coach.

"Someone once told me you don't know about cancer until it touches you," Rivera said during a pregame interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio. "That's when it touched my brother, Mickey. There's nothing like it. When it touches you, it's overwhelming. But then you see things like this and people that support you and the notes I got and the letters I got, the notes I got from friends. Tremendous.

"It shows that you're not doing this by yourself, that there's a whole bunch of people helping you do this."

Rivera's brother, Mickey, died in 2015 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Rivera said his own diagnosis was early enough and that doctors are optimistic about his prognosis. He admitted he struggled at times during the game; putting his arm on a team employee for balance as he exited the field. But he also said at times he felt strong.

"Other times I waned a little bit, so I had to take a quick break and get some Gatorade in me. I was able to get back up and keep going," he said.

Rivera said he hydrated before the game and took two bags of IV fluid before the game. Their director of football operations, Paul Kelly, constantly gave him water and Gatorade during the game.

"I would sit down at TV timeouts," Rivera said. "I normally don't, but I would. I sat down a couple of times just trying to pace myself through it. I most certainly look forward to going home and going to bed early."

Rivera said he does have people around him who will tell him to take an extended break -- if his health reaches that point.

"I will listen, too," he said.

Corner Kendall Fuller said, "It means a lot to see him come fighting. Not even just today but seeing him on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and seeing him fight. It motivates all of us to go out there and keep on fighting and never quit."

Rivera was diagnosed with cancer in August. He missed practice Wednesday and had to leave early Thursday. He missed another practice earlier this season. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio filled in for Rivera when needing to address the team or the media.

For Rivera, he said his situation also heightened his awareness of medical costs.

"It speaks to the value and the need of proper medical [insurance] for our country," he said. "Going through the things I'm going through and seeing what these things cost, you just hope everybody's protected and covered. I really do."