WASHINGTON — One day after a Washington Commanders coach made headlines for a controversial tweet comparing the Capitol riot to Black Lives Matter protests, the NAACP said it wants Jack Del Rio to resign or be fired.
The defensive coordinator came under fire Wednesday for standing by his statement drawing comparisons between racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 and the 2021 Capitol riot. In the initial tweet, Del Rio was reacting to a news article about the Jan. 6 hearings asking why the summer of "riots, looting, burning and the destruction of personal property" isn't getting the same level of attention by lawmakers.
Then, he doubled down while speaking to the press later, calling the insurrection a "dust-up."
"I can look at images on the TV, 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?"
On Thursday, NAACP President Derrick Johnson called Del Rio's comments "offensive and ignorant," saying the coach did not belong in the NFL.
"The January 6th insurrection — an attempted coup — was far from a 'dust-up,'" Johnson said in a statement. "Each day we learn more and more on just how close our democracy came to autocracy. Downplaying the insurrection by comparing it to nationwide protests, which were in response to a public lynching, is twisted.
"You can’t coach a majority Black team while turning your back on the Black community. It’s time for you to pack up and step off the field."
In a statement released on Twitter hours after Wednesday's news conference, Del Rio walked back portions of his comments, apologizing for referring to the insurrection as a "dust-up," saying that language was "irresponsible and negligent." The coach continued to stand by the rest of his comments, supporting peaceful protests, but condemning community violence.
"I have fully supported all peaceful protests in America," Del Rio wrote. "I love, respect, and support all my fellow coaches, players, and staff that I work with and respect their views and opinions."
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 touched off significant reactions from NFL players, including a video featuring many of the sport’s biggest names in a call for change in the country. When Del Rio was asked if he had any concerns about how his players or fellow coaches would respond to his tweet, he answered with a firm "nope."
"Anything I say or write, I would be comfortable saying it to anyone that I work with, players and coaches," Del Rio said. "As Americans, we have a right to express ourselves. I’m just expressing myself. I believe what I believe. I said what I wanted to say.”
Head coach Ron Rivera declined to answer questions about Del Rio's tweet, saying he didn't care to discuss things "not pertaining to football."
After 11 months and more than 1,000 interviews, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will have its first in a series of hearings Thursday at 8 p.m., followed by a second hearing Monday at 10 a.m.