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Bill Belichick opens Friday press conference by addressing Ron Rivera’s recent cancer diagnosis

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NFL: AUG 22 Preseason - Panthers at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Thursday, news broke that Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera was recently diagnosed with cancer. The 58-year-old had reportedly discovered a lump on his neck in early July that did not go away after a few weeks and led to him visiting a doctor. The diagnosis was a squamous cell carcinoma in its early stages — a “very treatable and curable” form of cancer, according to a statement released by Rivera’s team.

The diagnosis also was mentioned by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his media conference call on Friday. Before addressing the state of his team and answering questions from reporters, Belichick spent some time talking about Washington’s head coach.

“On behalf of our team and our organization I want to send along our best wishes to Coach Rivera,” Belichick said to open the conference call. “Ron’s been a good friend and certainly a person that’s had a great career in the National Football League. He’s a quality person, player, coach so we just want to send our best wishes along to him and hope for a speedy and complete recovery. Hope that he’s doing well.”

Rivera, meanwhile, plans to continue coaching for the time being as he told ESPN’s Adam Schefter: “I’m planning to go on coaching. Doctors encouraged me to do it, too. They said, ‘If you feel strongly, do it. Don’t slow down, do your physical activities.’ But everyone keeps telling me by week three or four, you’ll start feeling it.”

After a nine-year stint as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Rivera joined Washington earlier this offseason. A two-time NFL Coach of the Year, he is trying to lead the newly-named Football Team to its first playoff birth since the 2015 season.