ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Commanders defensive coordinator is defending one of his recent tweets drawing comparisons between racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 and the Capitol riot in 2021.
In the original tweet, which has since been retweeted more than 900 times, Jack Del Rio was replying to a news article about the Jan. 6 hearings asking why the summer of "riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property" isn't getting the same level of attention by lawmakers, hashtagging the tweet #CommonSense.
Del Rio doubled down Wednesday while speaking to reporters during an OTA about the message he wanted to send with the tweet.
"I can look at images on the TV, people's livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem," Del Rio said Wednesday. "And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we're going to make that a major deal?"
Del Rio didn't acknowledge the deaths connected to the Jan. 6 riot or the more than 140 police officers who were injured in the original tweet or the follow-up comments.
In a statement released hours later on Twitter, Del Rio walked back portions of his comments, apologizing for referring to the insurrection as a "dust-up."
"Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent and I am sorry," the coach said.
Del Rio went on to say he supports all forms of peaceful protests, but condemns community violence.
"I stand by my comments condemning violence in communities across the country," he tweeted. "I say that while also expressing my support as an American citizen for peaceful protest in our country. I have fully supported all peaceful protests in America. I love, respect, and support all my fellow coaches, players, and staff that I work with and respect their views and opinions."
Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike reacted strongly to the comments calling the riot a "dust-up."
"That's highly inflammatory to say it was just a dust-up. Some of those officers are no longer with us," McPike said.
In addition, McPike is set to have a meeting with Commanders President Jason Wright on Thursday regarding the possible Virginia location for the new stadium. However, McPike says the recent comments from Del Rio "makes it hard to even consider anymore."
After 11 months and more than 1,000 interviews, the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by a mob protesting the results of the 2020 election will have its first hearing Thursday at 8 p.m.
The murder of George Floyd touched off significant reactions from NFL players, including a video featuring many of the sport’s biggest names in a call for change in the country. When Del Rio was asked if he had any concerns about how his players or fellow coaches would respond to his tweet, his answer was simple.
"Anything I say or write, I would be comfortable saying it to anyone that I work with, players and coaches," Del Rio said. "As Americans, we have a right to express ourselves. I’m just expressing myself. I believe what I believe. I said what I wanted to say.”
Head coach Ron Rivera declined to answer questions about Del Rio's tweet, saying he didn't care to discuss things "not pertaining to football."