The Washington Commanders NFL team fined its defensive coach Jack Del Rio $100,000 on Thursday for his comment the previous day, calling the Jan.6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol “a dust-up” and questioning why the riots during the summer of 2020 were not “looked into.”
Things began with Del Rio posting on Twitter Monday with, “Would love to understand ‘the whole story’ about why the summer of riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property is never discussed but this is? #CommonSense.”
When asked about his tweet by reporters Wednesday, Del Rio said that it was just a “respectful” question and that he was just honestly expressing himself.
“We, as Americans, all have the right to express ourselves, especially if you are being respectful,” Del Rio said in a video on the ESPN website. “I’m being respectful. I just asked a simple question. Why are we not looking into those things (the 2020 riots)? I can realistically look at it and see the images on TV, people’s livelihoods being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem. And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we are going to make that a major deal.”
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera issued a statement Friday, expressing his “disappointment” with Del Rio’s comments, and said that the team was fining the defensive coach $100,000.
“This morning I met with Coach Del Rio to express how disappointed I am in his comments on Wednesday,” said Rivera’s statement, which was posted on Twitter. “His comments do not reflect the organization’s views and are extremely hurtful to our great community here in the (District of Columbia, Maryland, Virgina).”
He said that the televised Jan. 6 congressional hearings showed the riot as an “act of domestic terrorism” that has no equivalency to “those who demanded justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder” in the summer of 2020.
Rivera said the fine money will go to the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
“Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent and I am sorry,” Del Rio said in his apology, according to ESPN. “I stand by my comments condemning violence in communities across the country. I say that while also expressing my support as an American citizen for peaceful protest in our country.”
NAACP president Derrick Johnson told ESPN that Del Rio should be fired, or resign, for making the comments.
“His comments could not have been more offensive and ignorant,” Johnson said in a statement to the sports network. “The Jan. 6 insurrection — an attempted coup — was far from a ‘dust-up.’ Each day we learn more and more on just how close our democracy came to autocracy. Downplaying the insurrection by comparing it to nationwide protests, which were in response to a public lynching, is twisted. You can’t coach a majority Black team while turning your back on the Black community. It’s time for you to pack up and step off the field.”