This story of Ron Rivera's intensity shows how he changed Washington's culture

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Ryan Homler
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This story of Rivera's intensity shows how he changed WFT's culture originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As Ron Rivera took over the Washington Football Team in 2020, the main goal was to revitalize the culture within the organization both on and off the field.

While there were many areas that needed help, one of the most important on the field was practice. The results happen on Sundays, but it is the work done throughout the week that makes winning possible. Prior to Rivera's arrival, there had been murmurs that some lackadaisical practices were plaguing the team.

Rivera would have none of that, and this story from The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins shows just how serious he was when it came to doing everything the right way.

Jenkins wrote on an exchange at practice during the season in which a player questions the intensity Rivera required on each snap, given that it was different from what had been done in the past.

"One day there was a murmur of dissent from a player as Rivera was trying to drill a technique. The player said, 'This is how I did it last year,'" Jenkins wrote.

Rivera was not a fan of that remark.

“That really pissed me off more than anything else,” Rivera said. “When we were flopping around, losing games, to have somebody say, ‘Well, you know, this is what I did last year.’"

From there, the head coach made sure to make one thing very clear: The way things had been done in the past wasn't good enough. Here's the excerpt from the story:

He called the whole team in. “Are you f------ kidding me?” Rivera said. “You’re going to sit here and tell me what you did last year was good enough? Three and 13 was GOOD enough? No, it wasn’t. And I’ll tell you right now, if you’re going to keep telling me this is how you’re going to do it, you’re not going to play. … Yeah, it’s different. Yeah, it’s hard. You’re learning something. If you think this is good enough to play in this league, come see me. Because I will get RID of your a-- right now.”

He told them, “What you allow is what you tolerate.” If they allowed themselves even one bad habit, “now it becomes acceptable,” he said.

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Clearly, the head coach was not in the business of hearing excuses, and his message to the team there is in line with what he has preached throughout his tenure.

Rivera understood early on that creating a new culture was about getting everyone to buy into the way he wanted to run the organization. Though it may be different than other coaches, that didn't matter. Practice might have been different in the past, but that structure wasn't exactly creating wins. 

Just one year into his tenure that message appears to have gotten across to most players, even if it took a slight adjustment period. The group has bought into his ideas, so much so that some are ready to run through a brick wall for Rivera.

For more on Rivera's efforts to change the culture in Washington, read Jenkins' full piece here