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Rivera backs the Chargers 'backers

September 09, 2007|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Chargers linebackers, who are already very good, will have an extra advantage today against Chicago. Their new position coach is Ron Rivera, the Bears' defensive coordinator the last three seasons.

Rivera, who interviewed for several head-coaching vacancies last off-season, finally wound up being hired as inside linebackers coach in San Diego after the Bears declined to renew his contract.

Chicago Coach Lovie Smith has said he and Rivera had philosophical differences, although neither coach has publicly detailed them.

Rivera told the Chicago Tribune last week that, despite wanting to stay with the Bears, he's happy in his new job and that he and his wife plan to one day retire in San Diego.

"The opportunities I had in Chicago were great, and I would have loved to have been able to continue there, but it didn't work that way," Rivera told the newspaper. "So here was another great opportunity, a great set of circumstances. I'm really excited about being around a great group of guys, a lot like the guys I've been around in the past in Chicago and Philadelphia. I've been very fortunate."

Said Chicago linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer: "He was a players' coach. We all liked him. He had a ton to do with me getting to where I am from the practice squad. Ron played [strong-side linebacker] for the Bears, so if anyone really knew what it was like to be in my shoes, it was him."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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