The Reason Jack Del Rio Was Fined By The Washington Commanders Has Now Changed

Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera now says he fined defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio last week because him calling the Jan. 6 breach of the United States Capitol “a dust up” and asking about violent protests during the summer of 2020 was “a distraction.”

“Just so everybody understands, I’ve spoken to Jack multiple times on what has happened, what was said,” Rivera said Tuesday in an opening statement to the start of the team’s three-day minicamp. “I told him the decision was I was going fine him $100,000 and we were going to move forward with this. We had a great conversation. We talked again this morning. And the big understanding, just so everyone understands, this is not about the fact that he exercised his right to free speech.

“This is about him impacting the football team. That’s the thing we all have to understand. I believe in the first amendment very strongly… So in Jack’s case same thing. But the thing we all have to understand with these rights, these freedoms, comes a tremendous responsibility and we have to understand that as well.

“And so this is about the impact that was made on our football team, the distraction it has become. It’s a very serious question and topic, but at the end of the day, it did impact us and that’s why I did what I did.”

In announcing his fine last week, Rivera said in a statement that Del Rio was fined because his comments “do not reflect the organization’s views and are extremely hurtful to our great community …”

That statement made it very clear the coach and the Commanders reject the idea that the Jan. 6 breach was a dust up but rather “was an act of domestic terrorism.”

That statement also said “lives were lost” when indeed one person was killed — protestor Ashli Babbit, an Air Force veteran, was shot and killed by a police officer.

A handful of capitol police committed suicide in the weeks following the breach.

Rivera’s original statement said “our organization 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.”

But Monday that was not the story any more. It wasn’t about Del Rio raising an issue Rivera and the Commanders don’t agree with. Now it was about Del Rio making waves and upsetting the peace of the football team.

Rivera said he spoke to Del Rio again Tuesday morning and Del Rio talked to the players in a team setting.

“He was very open, very forthright,” Rivera said. “Very contrite and apologized and opened himself up to questions or opportunities to players come in and meet with him. He’s already met with some of our players and talked to them about what was said and I’ve been told those meetings went very, very well.”

This is a developing story so come back to OutKick as we gather more information.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

10 Comments

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  1. So…how is it not about exercising free speech, but about the distraction that was caused by… (root cause) exercising free speech? Can someone explain this to me like I am 8?

    I mean, I suppose the precedent being set here is careful with that free speech because if it causes a distraction, you are gonna get the black hand. So it really is about free speech, but it’s not…

  2. The issue isn’t that an employer is controlling free speech. That happens all the time and is understandable with big business. It’s the hypocrisy of them allowing and promoting one type of so each (progressive) and stifling another (Conservative). Even worse considering most of their base leans right.

    • Most of their customer base likely does “lean right” … but 75% of their “product” (i.e. black athletes) has been terminally indoctrinated radical left. NFL ownership lives in 24/7 abject fear of some sort of retaliation from that product if ownership does not adhere to their demands.

  3. So he fines him for disrupting the team and then “was told those meetings went real well?” Too busy to attend the meetings, but making sure you silly little woke players did?

    Terrible leader. Can’t happen to a crappier organization. I would love Del Rio to tell them to go pound sand.

  4. Being fined for disrupting the team sets a dangerous precedent. How many times will bad coaching decisions by Rivera, or bad picks by the GM “disrupt” the team. I see a lot of fines coming down the line.

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