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Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera opened up about why he levied a $100,000 fine on defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio for the coach’s remarks about the Jan. 6 mob attack.
Rivera said he was a big supporter of the First Amendment, but the discipline Del Rio received was not about freedom of speech.
“This is not [about] the fact that he exercised his right to free speech. This is about what impacted the football team. I believe in the First Amendment very strongly. But the thing that we all have to understand with these rights, these freedoms come [with] tremendous responsibility, and we have to understand that as well,” Rivera said.
“This is about the impact that was made on our football team, the distraction it has become. It’s a very serious question and topic, but at the end of the day, it did impact us, and that’s why I did what I did.”
Rivera said Del Rio apologized to the team and offered to meet with players over the comments he made. Del Rio downplayed the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol last week and questioned why the intense protests in the summer following Floyd’s death didn’t receive the same scrutiny.
Del Rio called the Jan. 6 riot a “dust-up at the Capitol” and later attempted to backtrack on his remarks.
“I made comments earlier today in referencing the attack that took place on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent, and I am sorry,” Del Rio said in a statement.
“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 has since deleted his Twitter. Rivera said Del Rio’s fine would be donated to the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.