WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — You may know Ron Rivera as the coach of the Washington Commanders, but he’s both coached and played in the Super Bowl three times.

He’s probably best know as a longtime coach for the Carolina Panthers. Rivera took the team to Super Bowl 50 and was named the NFL coach of the year twice. Prior to that, he made it to the big game as both a coach and player for the Chicago Bears.

When Jarrett Payton asked Rivera whether it’s harder to take the field at the Super Bowl as a player or coach, it took him only seconds to answer. Coach.

“Playing, your worry, your concern is what you do for the team,” Rivera said of the differences between playing and coach on football’s biggest stage. “But as a head coach, you think globally.”

The 60-year-old of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent won his only Super Bowl ring playing defense and special teams with the 1985 Bears. After a nine-year professional career, he hung up his cleats unsure of what might be next. During an interview with Jarrett Payton, Rivera told an amazing story about how Jarrett’s father, Walter Payton, helped pave the way to return to the sidelines. You can click on the video above to see that story play out.

He eventually worked his way through the coaching ranks to last his first head coaching gig with the Panthers. After nearly a decade in Carolina, Rivera was fired and then hired in Washington. He was the first minority to be named head coach in franchise history.

It was in our nation’s capital where he’d face his toughest battle: cancer.

“I got angry, I really did,” Rivera said recalling being told of his diagnosis. “And then all the other emotions start to flood in.”

Rivera fought back tears recalling having to tell his mother of the diagnosis. His mom had already lost a son to cancer.

“Telling her I had cancer was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Rivera said. “But the greatest thing I’ve ever done is telling her I beat it.”

Throughout the treatment process, Rivera never missed a game. He said he didn’t know “any other way” than to remain active and go to work. Both current and former players consider him an inspiration.

“He gets the best out of players,” cornerback Josh Norman, who played for Rivera with Carolina, said back when Rivera was hired in Washington. “And not just players, but men. He builds men and guys — and also builds character, and sets them up not just for football, but sets (them up) in life. I think that’s the first and foremost thing you want to see in anybody, that they actually care about you instead of the game itself.”

When asked what he wants his legacy to be, Rivera was able to quickly answer: “he did things the right way.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)