No, Jack Del Rio: Jan. 6 wasn't a 'dust-up.' It was a violent act of treason. | Opinion

Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio called Jan. 6 riots a "dust-up." He's not just wrong, Del Rio's words are dangerous. Del Rio is another example of why the franchise is so problematic.

Mike Freeman
USA TODAY

If you want more proof that the Washington Commanders are one of the largest depositories of fecal matter in the NFL, look no further than the words of their defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio. In one fell swoop, Del Rio dishonored himself, the team (if that's possible) and the NFL by citing discredited Facebook memes, QAnon talking points and, frankly, lying about one of the most tragic events in the history of the nation with one of the grandest pieces of fake whataboutism you will ever see.

Yes, there's a lot to digest here, so let's get to it.  First, a quick step back. The Commanders have long been one of the worst franchises in all of sports, run by the worst owner, but recently the team has outdone itself with its toxicity and depravity.

Then along comes Del Rio. There was first his bonkers tweet earlier this week. Then, at a news conference a few days later, he doubled down and called the Jan. 6 riots a "dust-up," which is like calling a leg injury caused by an ax a scratch.

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Five people died during the "dust-up." Thousands of violent rioters stormed the Capitol building during the shindig. Two officers who responded to the attack later died by suicide. Federal prosecutors have charged hundreds of people for taking part in the riots. People built gallows and chanted about hanging Vice President Mike Pence.

Various videos of the day show an enraged mob, not a picnic. Or tourists.

Del Rio's words are a slap to the face of the Capitol police who fought to protect lawmakers inside the building, who fought to protect democracy.

The protests Del Rio talks about? They were, by far, mostly peaceful.

Washington Football Team defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio looks on before a game against the New York Giants at FedExField.

The story took yet another twist when late Wednesday afternoon, probably after a chat or two with team officials, Del Rio apologized for his remarks about Jan. 6 and condemned "violence in communities across the country."

His apology was too late, and I don't believe it's sincere. One look at his Twitter feed and you see a sewer system of right-wing conspiracy theories and just plain, ol' dumb stuff. It wasn't an apology from Del Rio as much as it was an attempt to stop the bleeding and maybe even save his job. 

We could spend a great deal of time fact-checking Del Rio, but that's not the main point. The reason the Del Rio story is important is the same reason Aaron Rodgers' disgraceful and embarrassing spread of vaccine misinformation was. Del Rio is a big name in the NFL. In many ways, he's NFL royalty. He was a player, a head coach (twice) and is now an assistant coach. What he says is foolish, but it carries weight because of who he is.

People like Del Rio and Rodgers act as propaganda force multipliers. Del Rio uses an old tactic of saying, "I'm just asking questions." But for a lot of people out there, maybe 30% of the country, these types of lies work. People on the ground level of these falsehoods see an NFL coach or Rodgers agreeing with them and it serves as affirmation.

Del Rio and others will say this is about a difference of opinion, another tactic of propagandists. But it's not. One is fact. One is not.

What Del Rio did was dangerous.

There's a reason why a bipartisan committee has spent over a year investigating the coup attempt and will begin releasing its findings on Thursday, and not investigating the mostly peaceful protests after the murder of George Floyd two years ago. Because one is a real thing and the other is not.

One was showing multicultural unity objecting to the systemic killing of unarmed Black people at the hands of law enforcement. Jan. 6, meanwhile, was a group of white nationalists trying to overthrow the United States government after being whipped up byt the former President.

Interestingly, in the aftermath of Del Rio's words, the "stick to sports" people and "shut up and dribble" folks are amazingly quiet.

“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” Fox News' Laura Ingraham once said. “Keep the political comments to yourselves. Shut up and dribble.”

That rule apparently only applies to certain people – and you know what I mean when I say certain people.

Some around the Commanders do realize just how problematic Del Rio is and how he creates even more problems for a franchise that has megatonnage of them.

Brian Mitchell, the former Washington running back and current analyst, said during a radio show on Wednesday, speaking of head coach Ron Rivera: "I don't give a damn about Ron Rivera getting mad at somebody having a (practice) collision until he gets off his (expletive) and addresses this damn idiot that he hired as a defensive coordinator. That's what I give a damn about."

"And if he can't do it, then he's the wrong damn man to be leading this damn football team. ... How do (you) expect anybody on that team to be straightforward when you've got a guy like that in the defensive coordinator position?"

Just another day in the life of a dumpster fire franchise.

Just another day in the life of America.