Del Rio has been attacked for a statement made this week that “I can look at images on the TV [of the Floyd protests] — 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. I just think it’s kind of two standards, and if we apply the same standard and we’re going to be reasonable with each other, let’s have a discussion.”
I strongly disagree with the characterization of the riot as a “dust up.” I publicly condemned Trump’s speech while it was being given and I called for a bipartisan vote of censure over his responsibility in the riots. However, the question is whether people are allowed to speak freely in their private capacities without triggering cancel campaigns. I have no problem with Sen. Saslaw condemning the comments. However, his use of the negotiations to tie the new stadium to the exercise of free speech is deeply troubling.
It is a view clearly shared by millions of other Americans. However, Saslaw and many in the media decided to use the $1 billion stadium to add pressure on the team to silence such employees. Saslaw told the media “This obviously was not very helpful, to put it mildly, but there’s so many other things out there,” a reference also to allegations of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement by the team and its owner Daniel Snyder. Saslaw suggested the team might be able to try again next year.
You might be allowed to coach and be conservative, but it is clear that you cannot do both publicly.
Various figures called for Del Rio to be fired. NAACP President Derrick Johnson called Del Rio’s comments “offensive and ignorant”:
“The January 6th insurrection — an attempted coup — was far from a ‘dust-up.'” 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.”
With the FedEx field contract expiring in a few years, the pressure on Snyder is considerable to punish Del Rio. The campaign worked. Del Rio made the expected public apology for daring to offer a dissenting view on the riot and the media coverage.
So the message from Sen. Saslaw is clear to the Commanders: Because you allow conservative employees to speak freely, no stadium for you and come back in a year…