Del Rio defends tweets on 2020 protests, Jan. 6 Capitol attack originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
After drawing attention for recent tweets comparing countrywide protests over racial injustices sparked by George Floyd’s death in 2020 to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio explained Wednesday why he feels so strongly about the topic.
“Why are we not looking into those things — if we’re going to talk about it — why are we not looking into those things?” Del Rio told reporters after the Commanders’ latest OTAs. “I can look at images on the TV, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem. And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we’re going to make that a major deal.”
On Monday, Del Rio tweeted this in response to an article promising to lay out the “whole story” about the events of Jan. 6.
Del Rio also had this reply to someone who questioned his original message:
In his Wednesday morning press conference after practice, Del Rio stated that he’d have no problem repeating what he posts on the Internet while around fellow members of the Commanders’ players and staff.
“Anything that I ever say or write, I’d be comfortable saying or writing in front of everybody that I work with, players and coaches,” Del Rio said. “I express myself as an American. We have that ability. I love this country and I believe what I believe and I’ve said what I want to say.”
Washington head coach Ron Rivera was asked his thoughts on Del Rio’s tweets in a press conference shortly before Del Rio addressed reporters.
“I’m not going to talk about stuff that I talk to my coaches about, especially stuff that’s off the field and not pertaining to football,” Rivera said. “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, though.”
Rivera did acknowledge that he would pull Del Rio aside if Rivera felt like Del Rio’s posts began to affect the locker room.
“If it ever becomes an issue or a situation, we’ll have that discussion,” Rivera said. “Right now, it’s something that I will deal with when it comes up.”
Del Rio, for one, doesn’t believe his players are put off by any of his tweets.
“If they are and they want to talk about it, I’d talk about it with anybody,” Del Rio said. “But they’re not. I’m just expressing myself and I think we all as Americans have a right to express ourselves, especially if you’re being respectful. I’m being respectful.”
Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller, who wasn’t previously aware of what Del Rio had shared, said this after being informed of Del Rio’s words.
“I don’t have a reaction right now. If I have a reaction, a feeling, towards something, I’ll express that with him.”
Fuller also noted that many Washington players “are open to listening” and allowing all voices to “express how they feel about things.”
After answering a handful of questions related to his social media stance, Del Rio announced that “football questions is where I’d like to focus.”
From there, the assistant engaged in back-and-forths on his defense and specific players. Just before exiting, however, Del Rio faced one more inquiry about his tweets, which is when he really expanded his thoughts.
“I just think it’s kind of two standards and if we apply the same standard and we’re going to be reasonable with each other, let’s have a discussion,” Del Rio said. “That’s all it was. Let’s have a discussion. We’re Americans. Let’s talk it through. I’m for us having a great opportunity, having a fulfilled life every which way I can. When I’m here, it’s about love and respect. I love my guys, I respect my guys but I also love the fact that I’m an American and that means I’m free to express myself. I’m not afraid to do that.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 7, 2021, Rivera expressed his frustration about the events that unfolded the day before.
“That’s disappointing, because we have always been a country based on our principles,” Rivera said. “For this to have happened, I’m truly disappointed that there’s people that didn’t think there was a better way.”