The NFL’s Washington Commanders once again find themselves at the center of an off-the-field issue that has nothing to do with football, dealing another blow to their rapidly sagging reputation as one of the most dysfunctional franchises in professional sports.
The fallout from the latest misstep requiring an explanation or apology — assistant coach Jack Del Rio comparing the protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol — could have far-reaching consequences beyond the locker room.
It immediately scuttled the team’s best opportunity to reach a deal to build a new stadium, which was the most important long-term project facing owner Dan Snyder amid a lengthy drought without a playoff victory and a dearth of fan enthusiasm. Multiple Virginia lawmakers pointed to Del Rio’s comments as another reason not to vote on legislation luring the Commanders to the state, and by Thursday the bill already on its last legs was pushed off the table for the rest of the year.
Commanders Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio:— Greg Price (@greg_price11) June 8, 2022
"I can look at images on the TV, people's livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem. And then we have a dust up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we're going to make that a major deal." pic.twitter.com/99mF3uxUTD
In a brief interview with the Associated Press, Democratic Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw cited various investigations and “other issues to be answered.”
Del Rio apologized hours later in a Twitter post, saying it was “irresponsible and negligent” to call Jan. 6 a “dust-up.” Del Rio added he stands by comments “condemning violence in communities across the country.”
The president of the NAACP called for Del Rio to be terminated, saying the comments could not have been more offensive and ignorant.
Raiders will not be Patriots West
When Raiders owner Mark Davis chose his new coach in January, he made it clear Josh McDaniels’s success as an offensive coordinator in New England weighed heavily on his decision.
“I’ve just always seen the Patriots as a team that not only adapts from week to week or half to half but maybe even series to series,” Davis said at McDaniels’s introductory news conference Jan. 31. “I just believe in Josh’s ability to assess a situation and make the changes in real-time, and that’s always been something that’s impressed me.”
Make no mistake, though, the Raiders have been adamant during their three-day mandatory minicamp that they’re establishing their own identity — this isn’t “Patriots West.”
“This is something totally different,” said running back Brandon Bolden, who won two Super Bowls over two stints with the Patriots. “Josh is going to put his own spin on things. Is it a few things that we learned along the way because I was there with him a lot of the time? I mean, sure. But we’re not trying to be New England. We’re not trying to be like New England. We’re the Las Vegas Raiders and that’s what we’re going to play as.”
Bolden did say his presence, along with that of other former Patriots including defensive end Chandler Jones, quarterback Jarrett Stidham, running back Jakob Johnson and safety Duron Harmon allows them an opportunity to give their new teammates a “heads up” on situational plays or simply alert them to things they should expect on a daily basis.