Jack Del Rio is a coward.
According to the definition, the Washington Commanders defensive coordinator fits the bill as, “a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things.” It’s why he deleted his Twitter account after he was fined $100,000 by the team, a sum that was donated to the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund, after he deemed the events of January 6th as a “dust-up.”
On Tuesday morning, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera held a press conference focused on how his assistant tried to make it seem as though the reactions to the murder of George Floyd by police were worse than the actions in which homegrown American white terrorists tried to overthrow the government by storming the Capitol in which some of them wanted to plant bombs, while others were trying to kill elected officials — including then-Vice President Mike Pence, who is a member of their party.
Rivera labeled Del Rio’s comments as a “distraction.” But, if we’re being honest, who is truly being distracted here? Because when it comes to the players in that locker room who are mostly Black, playing for a coach who thinks and sees them the way that Del Rio does is the norm. Black people rarely get to experience work environments where white people “see color.” When you “don’t see color,” it means that you’ve willingly decided to ignore all the obstacles Black people must overcome, and the things we deal with daily. This is why some players usually don’t react to situations like these, given that it’s usually already understood where they stand. “I don’t care about his (Del Rio) opinion as long as he shows up every day and works hard. That’s what I want from my defensive coordinator,” Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen told NBC Sports Washington.
The silent majority are powerful because they’re skilled at hiding in plain sight. Well, until one of them says something that blows their cover, which leads to them doubling down, followed by a useless apology. Or, it shows up when they out themselves by trying to make it seem like playing it down the middle is the best way to be without realizing that it’s an option that only white privilege bestows.
“Politics is getting into everything right now and it doesn’t need to,” said everyone’s favorite mediocre coach, Jeff Fisher, on OutKick The Tailgate, as if politics and sports haven’t been intertwined for decades. “The Rivera and Del Rio stuff, I mean come on, give us a break … Leave that stuff alone, there’s too much going on right now.” The man whose career winning percentage is 51 percent went on to say that he went “down the middle” his whole career and that he “respected everybody for whatever they believed in and everyone should have an opportunity to talk about what they believe in.”
The audacity to have a career in which you worked with and benefitted from the talents and intelligence of a group of people just to admit that by playing it safe you were culpably silent every time they were attacked, belittled, or mistreated is something that only white people — and in this situation, white head coaches in the NFL — can publicly say and get away with.
This is why the NFL has a class-action lawsuit against it alleging that its hiring process is racist. Because despite how a league that’s approximately 70 percent Black only has three Black head coaches that identify as Black, men like Del Rio, Fisher, and Jon Gruden are the ones that get to make millions or stay employed. At almost every other job in this country — outside of being president — having some kind of experience in that field is a necessity. But in the NFL — where the players are mostly Black — coaches remain majority white. It’s a very telling “coincidence” when you realize that white men dominate the head coaching ranks the same way they do the Oval Office.
It shouldn’t be overlooked that Del Rio works for the same team that was being investigated when Jon Gruden’s emails were discovered, which proved that he hates anybody that isn’t a straight white man. Last October, the league painted Gruden as a lone wolf as their investigation conveniently found that nobody else had emails with racist, homophobic, or misogynistic language in them. Eight months later, the league is dealing with a similar situation with Del Rio. It’s time that people finally realize that most of the coaches in the NFL are like Jack Del Rio. And once you accept that, it’s easier to understand why it’s damn near impossible for anybody who isn’t like them to succeed in this league.