NFL

Del Rio sticking to football talk after $100K fine


ASHBURN, Va. — The last time that Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio answered questions from the media, it resulted in a $100,000 fine. This time, it resulted in him deflecting all questions about the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and sticking to football.

Del Rio, who on June 9 referred to the events at the U.S. Capitol 19 months ago as a “dust-up,” made it clear Wednesday in his first news conference since then that he only wanted to discuss his players or the Commanders in general.

“I’m so happy to be in camp right now,” Del Rio said. “The team is doing a great job working on preparing for the season and everything I’d like to talk about should have to do with football and playing good defense.”

Washington coach Ron Rivera said things have “been cool” with Del Rio.

“He’s been great about it,” Rivera said. “He accepted it and he understood it had nothing to do with his points of view and that just his interpretation more so than anything else and that’s why it was done.”

Del Rio was fined by the team for his comments, in part because it caused another distraction for a franchise that didn’t need one. It came shortly before a June 22 hearing in Congress regarding the investigation into Washington owner Dan Snyder and around the time when the Virginia Assembly was discussing whether or not to table a vote on possible funding for a stadium in the state.

Del Rio, who has since deleted his Twitter account as as a “personal choice,” had compared what happened at the Capitol to the riots after the George Floyd murder. The “dust-up” comment — for which he apologized later that same day — led to calls by some groups, including the NAACP, to fire him. Others were upset that he was even fined.

During the Congressional hearing on June 22, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if the team was right to fine Del Rio.

When asked about Jordan bringing his name up, Del Rio said, “I really have nothing to add.”

Del Rio’s comments have not been a topic during training camp interviews. In the spring, players said they did discuss it, but they also said they supported Del Rio based on their own interactions with him over the previous two years.

Last week, Rivera fired defensive line coach Sam Mills III and elevated Jeff Zgonina from his assistant’s role.

“Coach [Rivera] has a good sense of what he wants to do,” said Del Rio, “and our job as staff members is to make it come to life and make it productive. And that’s what we’re going to do.”


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