Column: Hey, Jack Del Rio — what happened to ‘stick to sports’?

June 9, 2022

AP/Alex Brandon

Stick to sports. If only the Washington Commanders could.

Under multiple monikers now, Washington’s NFL franchise has spent the better part of two decades neck deep in off-field controversy coupled with lousy play on a lousy field in a dilapidated stadium. So the last thing they needed was defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s disrespectful game of what-about-ism, playing down the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Let’s get right down to it,” Del Rio said Wednesday. “What did I ask? A simple question. Why are we not looking into those things, if we’re gonna talk about [Jan. 6], why are we not looking into those things?

“Because it’s kind of hard for me to say, I can realistically look at it, I see the images on TV, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed. Businesses are being burned down. No problem. And then we have a dustup at the Capitol, nothing burned down. And we’re gonna make that a major deal.”

Yes, we are. Because Jan. 6 was as much a “dustup” as the Civil War was a minor altercation about states’ rights.

Del Rio, likely pushed by someone within the organization to walk back his comments, later apologized. Yet, just like his Wednesday morning comments, started ok but didn’t know when to shut up.

In addition to basically saying, “I’m sorry for causing a stir but I meant what I said,” it’s also a direct contradiction to his own previous statement about player protests.

Del Rio was correct about one thing: There is a double standard in the NFL. It apparently allows for a mediocre coach to remain gainfully employed after spewing ignorance under the umbrella of “I’m free to express myself.” Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick — objectively a better quarterback than Del Rio is a coach, by the way — remains out of the league going on six years now, supposedly because teams don’t want the distraction. You know, like Del Rio is right now.

And miss me with talk of hindsight because anyone who’s paid attention to Del Rio’s track record knows he’s never been worth the trouble. His 93-94 record as a head coach with only three winning seasons out of 12 certainly isn’t worth living through a ridiculous locker room ax mishap, massive water consumption or his tweeting habits.

Yet, Brian Flores just got fired in Miami for two winning seasons out of three quiet campaigns, while Del Rio stays gainfully employed after his 25th-ranked scoring defense was by far the most disappointing unit in 2021.

That, friends, is the very definition of white privilege.

Del Rio’s take, which conveniently and misguidedly omits the fact the Capitol attack was both deadly and traumatic, also reeks of what brought about the George Floyd riots to begin with — racial injustice.

Perhaps the most appalling aspect of Del Rio’s comments is the false equivalency between the Floyd unrest and the insurrection. He seems completely oblivious to the massive difference between oppressed people demanding justice for the continued slaughter of Black people — as I said in 2020, Floyd’s murder happened before we could finish shedding tears for Breonna Taylor — and those throwing a deadly tantrum because their precious demagogue lost the election.

Furthermore, Del Rio’s offer to have a conversation about race in America is wholly disingenuous. This discussion has taken place for decades, and ramped up all over the country in 2020. The only reason he doesn’t know the answer to the “simple question” he posed is because he doesn’t care to know. That information is readily available to anyone ready and willing to put aside their privilege and truly listen.

One of Del Rio’s team captains, Jonathan Allen, took the politically correct approach:

What else can a player say? Especially when his boss gives an “apology” like Del Rio’s?

And what else can I say about the NFL’s plantation-like power structure that I haven’t already in what feels like 100 columns?

So I’ll just leave the last word for a non-Washington player who sums this up perfectly:

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on

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