Cowboys reportedly interested in Bears' Rivera
MIAMI -- Ron Rivera's ready when the day arrives. Being a head coach in the NFL is the logical next step. When and where? He's not really sure, even though his name has surfaced for yet another vacancy, this time in Dallas.
The Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator, in some ways, has been the victim of his own success. With his team in the Super Bowl, he's not allowed by league rules to interview until it's over.
"I haven't talked to anybody in Dallas," Rivera said Thursday morning at the team hotel. "Nobody has told me anything."
Rivera's wife called him after Wednesday's practice and informed him of a report that he could be a candidate to replace Bill Parcells. There is also speculation he might be offered the Cowboys' defensive coordinator's job if the head coaching spot goes to Norv Turner.
"That's something I'd address if it ever came to fruition," Rivera said. "Right now, I can't tell you because I don't know anything."
Last year, Rivera was a candidate for head coaching positions with the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams. And this season, he was a contender for jobs with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday he wouldn't name Parcells' replacement until after the Super Bowl. He already has interviewed eight candidates.
Rivera's focus for the rest of the week is getting his defense prepared to slow down Peyton Manning and the Colts. He hopes the latest speculation won't be a distraction for the Bears.
"I really do appreciate the opportunity of getting back to the Super Bowl. I know eventually I'll get an opportunity as a head coach because it's just the way things progress," Rivera said.
"As I go through this process, I understand it because I'm not the first guy this has happened to and I'm not going to be the last."
Rivera is truly a link to the Bears' two Super Bowl appearances -- he played under Mike Ditka when Da Bears romped to a championship 21 years ago and now coaches under Lovie Smith.
"Ron has had an opportunity to interview for a few head jobs. I am still trying to figure out exactly why he hasn't been able to get one because he has done it the right way," Smith said.
"He was a player, assistant coach, coordinator and now he deserves his chance."
Rivera, who dusted off his Super Bowl ring once the playoffs started this year, has molded the Bears into one of the league's best defenses the last two seasons.
"I think the reason it's worked so well for him is that he actually played," Bears defensive end Alex Brown said. "He won the Super Bowl. He knows how to get it done."
In a twist, one of the Cowboys' other candidates is Rivera's former Bears teammate, Mike Singletary, the Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
Ditka predicted that either one would make a fine head coach.
"Those guys are quality people," Ditka said Thursday. "And football is not about Xs and Os, don't ever get caught up in that. There are no geniuses, it's about relating and dealing with people. And those people know how to deal with people. You got to make people share your dreams, share your vision and they are capable of doing that, both of those kids. I call them kids."
Colts secondary coach Leslie Frazier was a teammate of Rivera's on the Bears' last Super Bowl team and remembers how much Rivera -- who was a reserve linebacker -- studied the game and stayed ready.
"He's a guy players love to play for and, at the same time, he's got a firm hand. It's not just the defense, he's got a great sense of what it takes to win," Frazier said.
Rivera has big days ahead, none more important than Sunday. A Bears' victory could be the final achievement that catapults him into the position he someday expects to hold -- head coach.
If he does get the Dallas job or another one at a later time, he would be a rarity: a Hispanic head coach in the NFL.
"It was kind of [like] when I played," he said. "I was one of the few Hispanics to play in the NFL. ... It's a role that I would relish most certainly. I think it's very important for the communities to have different types of role models."
Rivera, who went on the Internet to read the latest reports linking him to Dallas, acknowledged that the Cowboys' situation is intriguing.
"You sit there and wonder, 'Is it true? Am I going to get an opportunity?' " he said. "In the same respect, you know you want to keep the focus on Indianapolis and, for the most part, I've been able to do it until this morning."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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