1. To unlock all of features of Rams On Demand please take a brief moment to register. Registering is not only quick and easy, it also allows you access to additional features such as live chat, private messaging, and a host of other apps exclusive to Rams On Demand.

Ron Rivera on locker room culture

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by Prime Time, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. Prime Time RODerator

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Messages:
    3,895
    Likes Received:
    2,911
    [​IMG]
    David Drapkin/AP

    ‘That is Our Locker Room’
    Carolina’s Ron Rivera says breaking down the invisible wall between players and coaches is an important step toward improving locker room culture—not to mention creating a winning environment
    By Jenny Vrentas

    PHILADELPHIA — Ron Rivera was standing in the back of an auditorium at Penn’s Wharton School of Business on Saturday, wearing a Carolina Panthers dress shirt and a backpack.

    It wasn’t his turn to speak yet at the NFL’s Career Development Symposium, an annual program for prospective head coaches and general managers. Chiefs coach Andy Reid and two league executives were leading a late-morning panel discussion on the topic du jour—respect at work—and the Panthers’ fourth-year head coach was listening. The conversation had shifted to the coach’s role in a players’ locker room, when NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch spotted him. Suddenly, Rivera was making a passionate plea to the room of 60 would-be coaches and GMs.

    “I’m just going to say this: bull—-,” Rivera said. “That locker room is our locker room. That’s our locker room. I have a vested interest in what goes on in that locker room. I learned that, though, after my second season.”

    Rivera’s voice boomed from the back of the room over the next few minutes, rising as he continued to talk. As an NFL linebacker, he had firmly believed the locker room was the players’ sanctuary. As a head coach, he’s learned that the divide can’t exist in successful organizations. He shared his experience in the hopes of guiding future team leaders.

    The hazing scandal that unfolded in Miami last fall put a spotlight on locker room culture and asked a critical question of all coaches: How involved should they be in the locker room? In early April, Rivera was one of nearly two dozen coaches, players, owners and executives from the NFL and the Players Association—including Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith—at league headquarters discussing this very topic during a meeting about workplace standards.

    “When we were sitting in that meeting with the Players Association, [the players] were talking about our locker room, our locker room, our locker room, our locker room,” Rivera told the room on Saturday. “Then somebody brings up Miami. The first thing they did is they threw the head coach under the bus. ‘Well, he had no idea what was going on in his locker room.’ So I said, ‘What do you mean, his locker room? This is our locker room, guys, our locker room.’ ”

    When Rivera says “our” locker room, he means it belongs to the players, the coaches, the team. His nine seasons as a player had conditioned Rivera to believe coaches should keep out of the locker room. But after the 2012 season, his second as an NFL head coach and his second with a losing record, he took a group of Panthers players to dinner. As they spoke, he realized his absence in the locker room had created a disconnect.

    “All of the sudden, I started hearing all the bitching and moaning,” Rivera recalled. “Oh, this happened, that happened. I’m thinking to myself, I didn’t see any of that. I didn’t see it because I wasn’t down there. That was my fault. Not theirs, my fault.”

    So last offseason, Rivera started hanging out in the locker room. Sometimes players would find him sitting at their lockers when they arrived to work in the morning. Their conversations prompted him to change the team’s daily schedule, moving practice earlier in the day. Hearing linebacker Luke Kuechly, a budding superstar, describe soaking up veteran Chase Blackburn’s appetite to win (in everything, including a team outing to Charlotte Knights batting practice) has Rivera considering setting up a mentoring program between players during the regular season.

    Some players still hush up when he comes around, “but I don’t give a crap,” Rivera said. There are many reasons why the Panthers went 12–4 and won the NFC South last season, but Rivera believes his presence in the locker room was one of them.

    Rivera’s wisdom is part of the value of an event like the Career Development Symposium. Later in the afternoon, he was part of a panel discussing how to coach today’s players. The NFL set the stage, but the would-be head coaches and general managers in the room asked many of the questions, such as, “How do you balance an intense game with growing a culture of respect?” The message they got from Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s chief human resources officer, was clear: If you want to be considered during the next hiring cycle, you have to have ideas about creating a healthy workplace.

    “This is something that is very important to [owners],” Gulliver told the aspiring candidates. “They don’t want a repeat of some of the issues that we had last year. And when we have openings going forward, they’re going to want to have some level of baseline assurance that whomever they are talking to is going to be treating these issues seriously.”

    Some things haven’t changed. Reid recalled that one of Bill Walsh’s sayings was to keep the locker room open. That timeless advice has become even more important in a league that has welcomed its first openly gay player, is more exposed to the public than ever through increased media exposure, both traditional and social, and most of all wants to avoid a repeat of what happened in Miami.

    “There was some sort of miscommunication, something didn’t work right,” Rivera said of the Dolphins, after the session at Wharton. “As coaches it comes back to us, because we’ve got to know, we’ve got to make sure those things are corrected if there is something wrong. Coaches should be re-evaluating. If we’re not, we should be.”
     
    #1
  2. den-the-coach Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    Messages:
    1,766
    Likes Received:
    707
    FWIW's I really wanted the Rams to hire Ron Rivera over Scott Linehan as Rams Head Coach back in 2006...IMO Rivera was the best person and most successful coordinator they were interviewing back then. Funny that John Shaw stated that Rivera did not interview well and then hired a guy in Scott Linehan who could not motivate a group of marines at a brothel. Hey John, how did that interview go?
     
    #2
    Rambitious1 likes this.
  3. Prime Time RODerator

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Messages:
    3,895
    Likes Received:
    2,911
    I wanted us to hire Rivera as well because I figured he was a bad-ass who could whip this team into shape. Linehan and Spags turned out to be "nice guys" who plunged us off the cliff. Don't think much of any of the three now and am glad we have Fisher as HC instead.
     
    #3
  4. Thordaddy Binding you with ancient logic

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Messages:
    8,961
    Likes Received:
    2,581
    Linehan was willing to take less, we'd already lost out on Greg Williams cuz the Redskins paid him more to be a co ordinator,one of the several reasons I have always believed the Martz firing was a salary dump.
     
    #4
    leoram likes this.
  5. den-the-coach Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    Messages:
    1,766
    Likes Received:
    707
    I never thought it was a salary dump IMO Martz & Zygmunt had proven they could no longer co-exist and Shaw chose the wrong side. Also Gregg Williams wanted to stay in Washington for family reasons and I was shocked that he decided that because I too thought he would have been high on the Ram list to be the next Head Coach.

    This was simple the Rams went with Scott Linehan because they liked a Linehan/Haslett combination over a Rivrea/Wade Wilson combination. In Rivera's first interview (first one ever for Head Coach) Rivera did not have much of a plan for the offensive side of the football and Shaw feld their were more quality defensive coordinators available than offensive coordinators and changed course and went with an offensive coach.

    I remember corresponding with Jim Thomas about this, how could anyone hire Linehan? There is no way this guy could interview well because Linehan came off as such a putz in so many ways. Thomas speculated that Linehan was better in one on one then in group settings.

    However, I will give Linehan credit for running a good offense now the Lions do have their issues from time to time, but Linehan has done a better job there than I thought he would do. However, IMO he will never get another Head Coaching opportunity even at a school like Idaho, which is his alma mater.
     
    #5
    Prime Time likes this.
  6. Thordaddy Binding you with ancient logic

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Messages:
    8,961
    Likes Received:
    2,581
    Linehans whole staff was paid about what Martz was asking (remember he was in contract negotiations and had one year left) the rest of the story IMO is that the CBA amount was going up but the TV revenue was not the following year,but Martz wasn't the only guy dumped there were 7 coaches fired that year.
    Martz made the mistake of outing Shaws performance expectations he wanted in a new contract,any other NFL coach you know of where the club has an out of that kind,the rest of the stuff was character assassination cuz they didn't want to pay him.
    Once again Linehan was the low bidder AND we refused to pay the number one choice that year ,Greg Williams, what Washington paid him to be their DC (twice what we paid Linny).

    They were ready to re-sign Martz ,all that stopped that was he balked at the performance clause, THAT was ALL about money.
     
    #6
  7. Thordaddy Binding you with ancient logic

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Messages:
    8,961
    Likes Received:
    2,581
    BTW I was pretty high on Rivera as well .
     
    #7
  8. den-the-coach Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    Messages:
    1,766
    Likes Received:
    707
    Me too...IMO if they wanted the antithesis of Mike Martz then that was Ron Rivera. Plus Rivera was coordinating the best defense and the Rams needed that after Larry Marmie which IMO sealed Martz's fate being that he wanted Larry Marmie to run his defense in the worst way and he did.

    Who knows if Rivera was ready then, but IMO, he was more ready than Linehan who stammered when he spoke to the team and just did not get the players to buy in. Rivera a former player and sound defensive mind would have been a better choice. Funny that the Rams also interviewed Mike Zimmer back then, who is now finally a Head Coach.
     
    #8