Ron Rivera took to the podium at Commanders headquarters Tuesday to elaborate on his decision to fine Jack Del Rio $100,000 after the defensive coordinator's recent comments where he compared the 2020 racial justice protests to the 2021 Capitol insurrection.
"Just so everybody understands, this is not the fact that he exercised his right to free speech," Rivera said. "This is about what impacted the football team, OK?
"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 chose to fine Del Rio last Friday for remarks that came last Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Del Rio told reporters in a press conference that he believes there are "two standards" and that the nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations weren't scrutinized enough compared to what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 2021. He also referred to the events of Jan. 6 as a "dust-up."
According to Washington's head coach, he and Del Rio have had multiple conversations about Del Rio's words and on Tuesday Del Rio addressed them in a pre-minicamp meeting.
"He was very open, very forthright, very contrite and apologized and opened himself up to questions or opportunities for players to come in and meet with him," Rivera said. "He has already met with some of our players and talked to some of them about what was said and I've been told those meetings went very, very well."
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After beginning his presser with a lengthy statement about the situation, Rivera requested that the media focus only on football-related matters. But in a later follow up, he relayed how the First Amendment has been on his mind since Del Rio's initial comments and made a point of declaring his "respect" for it.
"I've read it again over and over the last few days," Rivera said. "I really, truly have. I have a copy of it right now sitting on my desk."
Rivera, though, was adamant that Del Rio must "understand with these rights, these freedoms, come tremendous responsibility."
Del Rio apologized on Twitter Wednesday evening following the backlash to his quotes and this past weekend, deleted his Twitter account altogether. Doing so was Del Rio's choice and not any sort of order from the organization, per Rivera.
As for whether Del Rio is on his "last strike" now that he's been reprimanded, Rivera didn't want to get too specific.
"No, this was not communicated any other way other than Jack and I had a conversation that'll remain between the two of us," Rivera said.