Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera on Friday fined his defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, $100,000 for calling the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol a “dust-up” and referring to the racial justice protests of 2020 as a “summer of riots.”
In a statement attributed to Rivera and posted on the Commanders’ Twitter page, the NFL head coach said he was disappointed in Del Rio’s comments and said they hurt the community. The organization will not tolerate any comparison between that event and protests that followed George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, the statement said.
“As we saw last night in the hearings, what happened on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 was an act of domestic terrorism,” the statement said, referring to Thursday’s primetime broadcast of the first public congressional hearing into the Jan. 6 riot.
The statement also said, “A group of citizens attempted to overturn the results of a free and fair election, and as a result, lives were lost and the Capitol building was damaged. Coach Del Rio did apologize for his 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’s statement then mentioned how Del Rio does have the right to express his opinions, but words have consequences. It also mentioned why protests that followed Floyd’s death while in custody of Minneapolis police were not a fair comparison to what happened at the U.S. Capitol.
“I want to make it clear that 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 who sought to topple our government,” Rivera said.
Del Rio’s $100,000 fine will be donated to the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund, the statement said.
Del Rio could not be reached for comment Friday.
In a tweet on Monday, Del Rio compared Jan. 6 to the protests that stemmed from Floyd's death. In that tweet, he described the protests as a “summer of riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property.”
Del Rio addressed the topic again on Wednesday morning.
“I see the images on TV, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed. Businesses are burned down. No problem,” he said. “And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol — nothing burned down. And we’re going to talk about, we’re going to make that a major deal. I just think, it’s kind of two standards.”
He apologized hours later on Wednesday, tweeting: “I made comments earlier today in referencing the attack that took place on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent and I am sorry.”
But Del Rio said he stood by his other comments “condemning violence in communities across the country.”
He has been with the Washington Commanders since 2020. Del Rio was also a former head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and then-Oakland Raiders.