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Mike Lupica: Jack Del Rio just the latest problem for the NFL with the toxic Washington Commanders

This is about some things a slow thinker from pro football named Jack Del Rio said the other day. Del Rio, sounding as if he played without a helmet when he was in the league, was trying to explain his core beliefs, such as they are, about his country in the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd. And maybe show the world at the same time that he is a dream employee for the Washington Commanders, a waste dump of an organization.

“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.”

Del Rio issued about half an apology on Twitter after that, or just a half-baked one, you decide:

“I made comments earlier today in referencing the attack that took place on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. I stand by my comments condemning violence in communities across the country. I say that while also expressing my support as an American citizen for peaceful protest in our country. I have fully supported all peaceful protests in America. I love, respect, and support all my fellow coaches, players, and staff that I work with and respect their views and opinions.”

It was as phony and disingenuous, even for sports, so often the home office for phony and disingenuous apologies once a sports figure finds himself getting flogged, often for sounding like a meathead, in the public square. The only statement he was walking back was the one about Jan. 6, 2021, a shameful and violent assault on the Capitol and on the transfer of power in a democracy, being a “dust up.”

He didn’t mean that, either. What he said originally is what he meant. It’s why the team fines $100,000 now, which isn’t enough and changes nothing about his beliefs, or who he is. The money, by the way, goes to the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund. The Commanders ought to double that. Or triple it. At least, just because of the damage Del Rio did by opening his big mouth.

We hear all the time about the toxic work environment with the Washington Commanders, formerly known as the Washington Football Team, one called that because of its featherweight owner, Daniel Snyder, refused for as long as he did to remove the team’s racist nickname. Of course, Del Rio works for him. Because you know who the current toxic environment is with the Commanders?

Del Rio is.

Destiny and not head coach Ron Rivera brought Del Rio to Snyder, the lousiest owner in professional sports now that Donald Sterling is out of business. Usually, guys like Sterling and guys like Snyder just go on and on, getting richer, getting new stadiums, watching the money roll in (in Snyder’s case that includes money he’s been accused of withholding from other owners) forever. They go on and on even when the Congress of the United States is investigating their business practices, especially as they relate to women who have worked for Snyder, women who say the operation was run by bums.

This was all before Snyder named his wife, Tanya, as co-CEO, and why do you suppose?

Take a good hard look at what Del Rio was really saying about social justice in this country, and how he acted as if the assault on the Capitol was some kind of speed bump on the way to President Biden’s election being certified on Jan. 6 before mean, dim-witted thugs, cheered on by the previous guy at the White House, essentially tried to demolish the guard rails on our way of governance, in one of the shameful moments in our country’s history.

So, this week a Proud Boy in training from the National Football League — and after all the rhetoric and money Commissioner Roger Goodell has thrown at social justice since George Floyd, what’s he going to do about Del Rio? — calls it a “dust-up.”

Now put that up against what Colin Kaepernick, now trying to find his way, maybe, back to pro football with the Raiders, did.

He took a knee.

Despite all the phony, old-boy rhetoric about that, he did not lead an insurrection, just a protest movement. He did not dishonor the flag, he did not dishonor our military. He did not smash windows, he did not attack the transfer of power, he did not assault police (the worst thing he ever did, and not for long, was to wear those pig socks, at the start of it for him). He did not storm government offices and go looking for the vice president of the United States, looking to do God-knows-what.

He took a knee, as a way of making his own statement about racial injustice in America. Before long, he was out of the game. Is Jack Del Rio on his way out of the game for what he said the other day, his rather ridiculous attempt at an apology, as trying to paint himself as someone trying to bring us all together and have a conversation about race, notwithstanding? We’ll see about that, now that the NAACP is after him.

Already people are worried about the dreaded C words with Del Rio. Cancel culture. This concern mostly comes from people who didn’t give a rip across the years of what could have turned into Kaepernick’s prime when Kaepernick was essentially blackballed from pro football, despite being someone who, at his best, had one of the best and most versatile performances in NFL postseason history against the Packers (263 passing yards, 181 rushing yards, finally accounting for four touchdowns, January of 2013).

Then he took a knee, years before somebody like Del Rio comes along to offer an upraised middle finger to anybody who thinks Jan. 6 might have been something more than a dust-up, and makes the same gesture toward the way the country reacted after the knee was finally off George Floyd.

But there is a larger issue here beyond the stink now attached to Del Rio:

When is the National Football League going to do something real and meaningful about what the Commanders/FootballTeam have become on Snyder’s watch. At least Del Rio had to stand there and take it this week. When does Snyder have to do the same? When is there some accountability about a franchise that has been this kind of embarrassment, off the field and so often on, for so long?

For the time being, though, the face of Snyder’s team is Jack (Dust Up) Del Rio. It is merely perfect, and completely fitting.

“I believe what I believe and I’ll say what I want to say,” Del Rio said.

Somebody explain something to this guy: What he believes is the problem. The latest problem, and a beauty, at the clown show that employs him. For now.


Once more, we need the great quote from the late, great George Young on the subject of all these golfers who took blood money from the Saudis:

“When they say it’s not about the money, it’s always about the money.”

The other day Graeme McDowell said that what the Saudi government did to Jamal Khashoggi was “reprehensible.”

Then McDowell added, “But we are proud to help Saudi if they want to use golf to get to where they want to be …”


There’s no buts, butthead.

You’re helping provide cover for a murderous regime.

No ifs, ands or buts about it.

By the way?

Of course, the Saudis hired George W. Bush’s old flack for weapons of mass destruction, Ari Fleischer, to moderate that first press conference for them in London.

Fleischer would run into a burning building if he thought somebody had dropped some money inside.

Maybe Phil Mickelson, who got paid the most blood money, thinks this won’t stick to him.

It will.

Him winning the PGA at 50 seems like it happened 50 years ago.

My pal Stanton wonders what Ranger fans know about living with James Dolan that might give Knicks fans some hope.

Quin Snyder should already be on the Knicks radar.

Who drew up the Mets’ recent schedule, the rest of the National League East?

Man, if you haven’t read the fiction of Jordan Harper, starting with “She Rode Shotgun,” you ought to.

The roar from the Rangers over the past month just shows you how much this city is aching for another title.

In anything.

Tom Biersdorfer’s last day at the Daily News was Friday.

The good news is that he’s staying in the business, at a time when the business needs all the good editors it can get.

But it’s bad news for us, because Tom is one of the best and smartest and caring desk guys with whom I ever worked, in all my years at this paper.

Newsday is as lucky to get him as we are unlucky to lose him.

I was reminded the other night, before I went to see the amazing Hugh Jackman and the equally amazing Sutton Foster in “The Music Man” (one of the great Broadway nights I’ve ever experienced), how happy I am that Gallagher’s is still right there on W. 52nd.

When we were finished with dinner, Dean Poll, who now owns the joint, took us upstairs to the function room where I feel as if I attended a hundred boxing press conferences in the old days.

They’ve moved the bar from its original location.

But, truly, the room looked the same to me, full of magic and memories, the walls lined with Bill Gallo cartoons and Ron Galella black-and-white photographs.

And the very best part, at least for me?

As we were walking back downstairs, on our way around the corner to the theater, there was a picture of the young Pete Hamill.

Again: One more Gallagher’s memory.

The place, which has only been around since 1927, is still full of them.

They’re a side order with the steaks.


Source: Berkshire mont

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