Rivera back rolling along and putting it on the line
Packers' guard played through numerous injuries last season
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
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
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
"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
"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
When talking to kids, Rivera delivers a simple, important
"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."