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Ron Rivera excited to focus on football following Commanders sale, but has 'a lot to prove'

The celebratory scenes outside FedEx Field on Friday could have come from a major motion picture -- or perhaps, a Super Bowl parade.

Commanders fans weren't celebrating a victory, though. Washington gathered to commemorate an official change in ownership of its beloved football franchise and, with it, a reason to believe again in the Commanders.

Years of controversies and distractions cast a cloud over the club, and it wasn't until NFL owners approved the sale of the Commanders from Dan Snyder to Josh Harris that the cloud dissipated. Coach Ron Rivera was there through it all and had the chance to share his feelings Tuesday.

"I think it's pretty exciting. You can already feel the impact," Rivera said. "A lot of it has to do with, really, just the reaction from the fanbase more so than anything else. I think our guys have also felt it; they felt it, again from the reaction of the fanbase."

Friday's introductory news conference was typical of any ownership change, an event with a special air to it. The pep rally that followed, though, illustrated just how much Commanders fans wanted this transfer of power to happen.

Rivera, for one, feels as relieved as he is energized by the start of a new era in the nation's capital.

"A lot of it I think has to do with the feeling that so many people are behind us," Rivera said. "It was … it was different, having to deal with stuff outside of football. Now it's about football. Like I said, we're gonna focus in on what's important to us and that's playing the game. I'm fired up about that, I am."

As far as football is concerned, Rivera could be coaching for his job. Washington hasn't found the success most franchises would expect since he took over, and the new ownership could end up preferring a coach of their own choosing.

For now, Rivera knows all he can do is coach to the best of his ability. The rest will take care of itself. And most importantly, he's happy to be able to stick to football after years of taking questions regarding off-field matters that were completely out of his control.

"I did every time I came in and had to answer your questions that weren't football-related what it would be like just talking about football," Rivera said when asked if he ever wondered what it would be like to just coach his team, and not worry about off-field matters. "And that's what's exciting about it for me personally.

"The last few years, I honestly felt more like a manager. Trying to manage things and stuff like that. And try to keep everybody on task and on focus, in terms of the game."

Rivera and the rest of the football world knew a sale would likely happen at some point during the offseason. But until the owners' votes were counted, no one could be certain.

Now, that's all behind them. It's time for Rivera to do the single job he was hired to fulfill: Lead the Commanders to success -- and perhaps preserve his employment, too.

"Oh, most certainly. I've got a lot to prove," Rivera said. "I really do think we've put ourselves in a really good position. I think we're a good young football team with some key veterans in key positions, and now is the opportunity to go. And yeah, I do feel that I want to prove some stuff."

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