Washington rallying around Ron Rivera's 'Ubuntu' mentality originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
As Washington head coach Ron Rivera took the podium to speak to the media on Thursday, he donned a shirt with a phrase in white lettering over a black background.
It wasn't, however, a phrase that many have become accustomed to seeing him wear. It didn't say "Washington" and it was not the "Rivera Strong" mantra that relates to his battle with cancer. The motto read 'Ubuntu' which of course prompted Rivera to shed some light on the reason for his fashion statement.
The word is more than just something on a shirt, as it is a mentality the team is now trying to live by.
“The word is ‘Ubuntu.’ It basically stands for: ‘I am because we are.’ It’s a little bit of an idea that (RB) J.D. McKissic and I talked about last week," Rivera said. "It’s something that I’ve actually read about. The whole attitude and idea is that to the success of the individuals, the responsibility of the team and the success of the team is the responsibility of the individual.”
"Ubuntu" is a phrase that is not new to the sports world. It became a key factor for Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics on their quest to a 2008 NBA Championship. Rivers introduced the team to the idea, everyone bought in, and it led to them becoming the best team in the sport.
Rivera was already familiar with the term, aware of how that worked for Boston, and it aided into his and McKissic's decision to bring it into their locker room.
“Yeah, it has a lot to do with it. As I said, I had a conversation with J.D. McKissic and he actually brought to my attention what Doc Rivers did. We had a great discussion," Rivera said. "Now, this is something I had looked up and researched a year ago and thought this was something I would like to do someday. When J.D. and I talked about it, we said: ‘You know what, let’s sit down and talk to the guys about it.’ Which we did. We’ll see how it goes.”
Ron Rivera is wearing a new shirt today, one that he and JD McKissic talked about and came up with. The back says "I am because we are." Ubuntu is the same mantra the 2008 Celtics used during their title run pic.twitter.com/sv6xsdXqUl
— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) November 5, 2020
As Washington comes off a bye and prepares to enter a stretch that will determine if it can truly make a run at the NFC East, they will need all hands on deck. There are talented pieces there, but the only way the team can continue to move in the right direction is if each and every player does their part.
Additionally, the idea that "Ubuntu" preaches falls in line with what Rivera has tried to instill in his team since Day 1: accountability. As he tries to shift the culture in Washington, it's all about buying in and working toward the common good of the team.
Rallying cries aren't required for the success of an organization, but having something for everyone to come together and focus on can only help. Should Washington find itself in winning situations in the coming weeks, expect "Ubuntu" to be a word that only grows in usage and popularity.