NFL coach fined for Capitol Hill riot remarks
The Washington Commanders have fined defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $100,000 as head coach Ron Rivera strongly condemned his remarks on the Capitol Hill riots of January 6, 2021.
Del Rio sparked controversy when referring to the riots, which caused seven eventual deaths as Donald Trump supporters attempted to overturn US President Joe Biden's presidential election win, as a "dust-up".
To the media on Wednesday, Del Rio had doubled down on his words on Twitter with the fall-out resulting in him being hit with the heavy fine by his NFL franchise employers.
In a statement released by the Commanders on Twitter on Friday, head coach Ron Rivera revealed that he had met with his defensive coordinator to express how "disappointed" he was with words which do not reflect the views of the Commanders organization and which were "extremely hurtful" to the "great community" in the district of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
Rivera described the Capitol Hill riots as an "act of terrorism" where a group of citizens "attempted to overturn the result of a free and fair election" which resulted in lives being lost and the Capitol building being damaged.
"Coach Del Rio did apologize for the comments on Wednesday and he understands the distinction between the events of that dark day and peaceful protests, which are a hallmark of our democracy," Rivera noted.
"He does have the right to voice his opinions as a citizen of the United States and it most certainly is his constitutional right to do so. However, words have consequences and his words hurt a lot of people in our community," Rivera stressed.
Rivera also wanted to make it clear how the Commanders will not tolerate any equivalency "between those who demanded justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the actions of those on January 6 who sought to topple the government".
As a consequence, Rivera decided to fine Del Rio the huge sum which will be donated to the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
"I feel strongly after our conversation this morning, he will have a greater understanding for the impact of his language and the values that our team stands for," Rivera concluded.
Del Rio tweeted on Tuesday that he believed those who took part in rioting in response to the murder of George Floyd should have been investigated like those who participated in the Capitol Hill riot had.
On Wednesday, when broached on the subject, he posed: "Let’s get right down to it, what did I ask? A simple question: Why are we not looking into those things?"
"Because it’s kind of hard for me to say I can realistically look at it, I see the images on TV, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down – no problem.
"And then we have a dustup at the Capitol, nothing burned down and we’re gonna make that a major deal. I just think it’s kind of two standards."
Though Del Rio later issued a Twitter apology conceding that he had been "irresponsible and negligent" by referring to the riot as a "dust-up", the fine he has received might not have satisfied National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Derrick Johnson, who called for his head.
"You can’t coach a majority Black team while turning your back on the Black community," Johnson balked in reference to the Commanders. "It’s time for you to pack up and step off the field."