Commanders DC Jack Del Rio defends comparing Floyd protests to Capitol riots

Washington Commanders assistant coach Jack Del Rio defended a recent tweet comparing the protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

When asked Wednesday about how players might react to it, the defensive coordinator said he was asking a "simple question" why the summer of 2020 protests were not receiving the same scrutiny.

"People's livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem," Del Rio said. "And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we're going to make that a major deal. I just think it's kind of two standards."

Del Rio later on Wednesday released a statement apologizing for categorizing the insurrection on Jan. 6 as a "dust-up," but stood by his condemnation for "violence in communities across" the United States.

"I made comments earlier today in referencing the attack that took place in the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021," Del Rio's statement read. "Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent and I am sorry. I stand by my comments condemning violence in communities across the country. 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."

Del Rio's initial comments Wednesday followed a post to Twitter Monday night in which he said, "Would love to understand 'the whole story' about why the summer of riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property is never discussed but this is ???" He was responding to a tweet about the Congressional hearings into Jan. 6.

Del Rio and coach Ron Rivera say they aren't concerned how that opinion will go over among players, many of whom are Black and spoke out about police brutality and racism in the wake of Floyd's killing two years ago.

"If they are and they want to talk about it, I'd talk about it with anybody," Del Rio said earlier Wednesday. "No problem. At any time. But they're not. I'm just expressing myself and I think we all as Americans have a right to express ourselves, especially if you're being respectful. I'm being respectful."

Cornerback Kendall Fuller, who is Black, said he was not aware of Del Rio's tweet. After a reporter read it to him, Fuller said: "I don't have a reaction right now. If I have a reaction, a feeling, towards something, I'll express that with him."

Del Rio, 59, has posted conservative opinions to his verified Twitter account numerous times since joining Rivera's staff in Washington in 2020.

"Anything that I ever say or write, I'd be comfortable saying or writing in front of everybody that I work with, players and coaches," he said after an offseason workout. "I express myself as an American. We have that ability. I love this country and I believe what I believe and I've said what I want to say. Every now and then, there's some people that get offended by it."

Rivera, who hired Del Rio to run Washington's defense, said he would not discuss anything he talks to his staff about.

"Everybody's entitled to their opinion, though," Rivera said. "If it ever becomes an issue or a situation, we'll have that discussion. Right now, it's something that I will deal with when it comes up."

Defensive captain Jonathan Allen told NBC Sports Washington: "I don't care about his opinion. As long as he shows up every day and he works hard, that's what I want from my defensive coordinator."

Del Rio played 11 NFL seasons as a linebacker from 1985-95. He has coached in the league since 1997, including stints as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-11 and Oakland Raiders from 2015-17.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.