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 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinAugust 22, 2003 Issue 

Rivera back rolling along and putting it on the line

Packers' guard played through numerous injuries last season

photo of Marco Rivera of the Green Bay Packers
ON GUARD: Marco Rivera will start at guard for the Green Bay Packers Aug. 28 in the 43rd annual Bishop's Charities game. Rivera, a Catholic, likes working with children. (Rick Evans photo)

Charities Game

What: 43rd annual Bishop's Charities Game

When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28

Who: Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans

Details: The Bishop's Charities Game has raised nearly $3 million for Green Bay diocesan charities. Vince Lombardi and Bp. Stanislaus Bona started the event in 1961. Before the game, Bp. Robert Morneau will present the Outstanding Player Award to safety Darren Sharper for his performance in last year's Charities Game victory over Cleveland.

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Last season, no unit on the Green Bay Packers suffered more injuries than the offensive line. Most fans recall the loss of both starting tackles, but many forget that right guard Marco Rivera, who did not miss a start, played much of the season with torn medial collateral ligaments in both knees.

How did the eight-year veteran from Penn State play through the pain?

Credit his toughness, desire, professionalism and commitment to the team, but also consider the inspiration he receives from a special group of kids.

During the off season, Rivera, a Catholic who was born in Brooklyn, NY, visits patients at St. George's Hospital, a Catholic children's hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In particular, Rivera reaches out to the cancer patients.

"It does help you put your aches and pains aside when you consider what these kids are going through," he said. "Those kids really touch your heart. If you want to talk about a struggle, those kids are struggling every day."

"You have to count your blessings and thank God that you've been blessed with the ability to walk and run and do the things that we basically take for granted," he continued. "When you see these children fighting for their lives, it puts everything into perspective. I go down there because I want to give a little back."

Rivera's mother is a native Puerto Rican, and his two grandmothers still live there. In addition to hospital visits, he conducts a youth football clinic in San Juan. Teammates William Henderson, Ahman Green, Na'il Diggs and Antuan Edwards, and Packer coaches Jethro Franklin and Ray Sherman assisted at the 2003 camp.

"It's a free camp to introduce the kids to football and teach them the game. I receive donations. The NFL gets involved, and my wife and I chip in to make it happen. This year was our fifth camp and we had around 400 kids. It's all about the kids."

Rivera and his wife, Michelle, are also active in Green Bay area charities. In 2002, they established the Marco Rivera Outreach Foundation, which co-sponsored the annual Pet Walk in support of the Bay Area Humane Society. The foundation will continue to support local charities as well as efforts in San Juan, said Rivera.

"We started it to give back to the community," he said. "Our goal is to basically help anywhere we feel it is needed. We mostly want to focus on helping kids and get involved in special events. I feel proud to be a part of it."

While in college, Rivera worked with "Second Mile," an organization which helps needy kids. He is a regular speaker to youth groups and has also supported the American Red Cross, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Prevent Blindness Wisconsin. He credits good role models for his commitment to outreach.

"My parents brought me up to be very humble," he said. "They taught me that, if I was ever in a position to help people, I should take advantage of that opportunity. I am an NFL player and a part of the Packer organization, so it's my job to give something back."

When talking to kids, Rivera delivers a simple, important message.

"I just tell them to keep working hard and to keep reaching for their goals," he said. "If they do that, things will work out."

Rivera, a Pro Bowl selection last season, takes a similar approach to playing football.

"I just concentrate on keeping my nose to the ground and keep working hard," he said. "I'm going to try to do everything I did last season, and I also hope to stay healthy."

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