Jack Del Rio addresses commanders after ‘dust-up’ comments


Jack Del Rio addresses commanders after 'dust-up' comments

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Six days after igniting a national sporting and political firestorm, Washington Commanders defense coordinator Jack Del Rio reached out to the team and apologized to the players for comments he made about the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol compared to the 2020 racial justice protests following the death of George Floyd.

Commanders Coach Ron Rivera said the coordinator was “very contrite,” answering questions and also meeting with some players one-on-one. The meeting lasted about 10 to 15 minutes, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said, and most players who spoke to the media said they wanted to keep their minds “in house.”

Allen acknowledged that Del Rio’s comments could affect the dressing room — “Some guys might feel kinda, and I think that would be natural,” he said — but insisted they won’t affect the team because a player plays for his family. his honor, his teammates and his paycheck just like any coach.

“I feel like everyone makes mistakes,” Allen said. “I’m not here to judge. I’m not here to judge. Apparently, [Del Rio] said something he shouldn’t have said. He trusted the team like a man and I mean that’s all you could ask for.”

While commanders opened Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp with several notable storylines — star wideout Terry McLaurin didn’t attend because of a contract dispute, but defensive tackle Daron Payne attended despite a contract dispute — Del Rio remained the main talking point.

After a workout last week, Del Rio spoke to reporters and slammed the protests following Floyd’s death, likening the nationwide demonstrations to the Jan. 6 riot in the US Capitol, which he called “a cloud of dust.” Del Rio apologized on Twitter, but Tuesday’s minicamp marked the first time he had come face-to-face with the entire team since the controversy erupted.

Before the practice, Rivera met with reporters and opened with a detailed explanation of the situation. He said he takes the situation seriously, consulted the original text of the First Amendment and spoke with former NFL safety expert Eric Reid, who faced political backlash in 2016 for kneeling with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

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Rivera explained that he fined Del Rio $100,000 last week not because Del Rio exercised his right to free speech, but because the defensive coach had become a distraction for the team.

“What we all need to understand with these rights, these freedoms are coming [with] tremendous responsibility,” Rivera said. “And this is about the impact on our football team and the distraction that it has become. It’s a very serious question and issue, but at the end of the day it affected us. That’s why I did what I did.”

Del Rio will not be meeting with reporters this week and is not expected to do so until the team opens training camp. Speaking last week, his comments sparked national conversation about sport and politics. Commentators from across the political spectrum have criticized Del Rio’s comments and the team’s response. Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson called Rivera a “fascist idiot” for fining Del Rio, while NAACP President Derrick Johnson called for Del Rio to resign or be fired.

“Today I am sick and tired! dust up! 100,000 is not enough, money is nothing for a person to be recycled through coaching,” says Ed Reed of the Hall of Fame wrote on Twitter. “…man, if you’re going to be coached by him, put your pants on! It’s just right and wrong, wrong.”

What did Rivera think of the criticism?

“That’s fine,” he said, before repeating his phrase of the day: “Football talk please.”

Rivera said he spoke to Del Rio several times — “I’m not going to discuss this, okay?” — and stressed he didn’t ask Del Rio to delete his Twitter account, which the defense coordinator did on Saturday.

Rivera added that he believes Del Rio’s speech to the team was “well received.”

“He was very open, very direct, very contrite and apologizing and opening up to questions or opportunities for players to come in and meet with him,” Rivera said. “He has already met with some of our players and spoken to some of them about what was said. I am told that these meetings went very, very well.”

After Del Rio’s speech, Allen said some players talked about it, but he didn’t because, “I like to separate my political life and my work life.

“We get paid to do a job; We are not paid to share our political views,” Allen said. “Well, I’m not saying we can’t use our platform to express our political views. But I think I get paid to play football, dominate doubles teams, and fire the quarterback. And I will do that.”

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“Everyone appreciates Jack and what he said to the team,” said tight end Logan Thomas. “Obviously we want to keep that in house. So it was just nice of him to stand up there and talk to us.”

“He did what he had to do,” Payne said. “Still our coach. … We go out there and play ball.”

Safety Kam Curl said it’s important for the team to keep Del Rio’s comments internal because “the media likes to take stuff and spin it.”

Allen was asked if he ever got tired of the organization’s off-field drama. He said he didn’t care, pointing out that he was criticized on Twitter for saying he’d like to dine with Adolf Hitler and defend Del Rio.

“Everyone outside of this team is so unimportant to me,” he said, adding, “You’re not out here every day busting your ass with me. I [couldn’t] don’t care what people think on twitter because twitter is not a real space. It’s a space where people jump behind the keyboards and say what they want to say. I don’t give a shit what people say on Twitter.

“It’s not a distraction at all. We are making progress and preparing for the training camp.”

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