Del Rio, 59, has been outspoken on Twitter in each of the three offseasons he’s been a Commanders coach, often on conservative political issues.
The latest came Monday night in response to an article by the Brookings Institution think tank about the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Del Rio wrote, “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 ??? #CommonSense.”
His comments have drawn the ire of some fans and commentators, with former cornerback DeAngelo Hall tweeting a clown emoji at the veteran coach, and Brian Mitchell calling on Commanders head coach Ron Rivera to address the situation.
“How do [you] expect anybody on that team to be straightforward when you’ve got a guy like that in the defensive coordinator position?” Mitchell said on his 106.7 The Fan radio show Wednesday.
Del Rio said he’s not concerned that his players would take offense to his comments.
“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,” Del Rio told reporters Wednesday. “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.”
After practice, Rivera declined to discuss Del Rio’s tweets and whether he’d discussed them with his defensive coordinator. Rivera said he does “not necessarily” worry Del Rio’s comments will affect the locker room, which is predominantly Black and includes many players who supported the Floyd protests with words and social media posts two years ago. If it does become an issue, Rivera said, he’ll deal with it.
“How I deal with it, I’m not going to share with you guys because it’s going to be a private matter,” he added.
Some of the defense’s most vocal leaders, including defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and defensive end Chase Young, were not available for comment Wednesday. Cornerback Kendall Fuller said he hadn’t seen Del Rio’s tweet, and after he was read it, said he had no reaction. If he changed his mind, he said, he’d bring it up with his coordinator.
Fuller was asked if the team has had ongoing discussions about race since the summer 2020 demonstrations.
“It’s definitely something that guys still have,” he said. “It might not be as broad as how that was when everything happened. But it’s something that you still see, conversations that guys still have. Just like everything in the locker room. I love NFL locker rooms because everybody’s so comfortable. We all know each other; we’re all comfortable with each other; everybody’s open to listening and hearing everybody. Everybody’s kind of just putting their opinion and their pride aside and just listening to everyone’s opinions. I think that’s how we grow.”