The Origin and Evolution of ‘Riverboat Ron’: How Madden Mentorship Shaped Rivera

February 4, 2016   ·     ·   Jump to comments

The story begins in 1977 at the old Edgewater Packing Company on Cannery Row by Monterey Bay, a place known for arcade games and a magnificent antique wooden carousel. A 15-year-old is here with his friends, doing things that teenagers do. 
He stops cold when he sees the man who, just weeks earlier, he watched being carried off the field by Ted Hendricks and John Matuszak at the conclusion of Super Bowl XI.
"That's John Madden!" he says to his friends.
And it is. The head coach of the Oakland Raiders had taken his family there for a getaway.
Like most kids in the Salinas Valley, this one is a Raiders fan. He loves the tough, physical style of football the Raiders embodied—and the slogan: Commitment to Excellence. And the coach, well, he is larger than life. Alone, the young man approaches him.
"Hi, Coach Madden," he says. "I'm a big fan of yours. My name is Ron Rivera."
"You play football?" the affable coach asks.
"Yes sir."
"What year...

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