LOVERRO: Del Rio’s free speech costly for Commanders

Jack Del Rio must have had his Tucker Carlson coloring book out Monday and had all his crayons ready to use — red, angry red, blood red — to use on social media.

The Washington Commanders defensive coordinator felt compelled to comment and promote some tweets, one about protecting children from brainwashing and grooming and the second about a comparison of the Jan. 6 insurrection to the George Floyd demonstrations and riots.

I’ve always read Del Rio’s tweets with interest, dating back to when he promoted President Trump’s latest pandemic expert, Dr. Stella Immanuel, who said masks were useless and hydroxychloroquine was the cure.

That’s when I dubbed Del Rio “Voodoo Jack.” It seemed to fit.

When I retweeted Voodoo Jack’s comments on grooming children and the insurrection Tuesday — only with the comment that Voodoo Jack was opining on these issues — he blocked me.

He should have put that block in his mouth.

Word spread about Del Rio’s comments until there was a firestorm on Twitter about the Commanders’ defensive coordinator, so much so that he was forced to answer questions about it at a team press conference Wednesday.

As everyone knows, it didn’t go well.

“I just asked a simple question,” Voodoo Jack told reporters. “Really, let’s get right down to it. What did I ask? A simple question. Why are we not looking into those things if we’re going to talk about it? Why are we not looking into those things? Because it’s kind of hard for me to say — I can realistically look at it, I see the images on 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 not going to talk about — we’re going to make that a major deal.”

He said this on the eve of the House Jan. 6 investigation into that “dust-up” that was an attempt to overthrow the government.

As any intelligent person would expect, the voodoo hit the fan, and Voodoo Jack was forced to apologize. He said his reference was “irresponsible and negligent.”

It was also very, very bad business — which is why Del Rio should be out of work today.

There should be an amendment to the First Amendment that says you can’t talk about the First Amendment unless you actually understand the First Amendment.

This is not a free-speech issue.

The First Amendment means the government can’t put Voodoo Jack in jail for his comments. But you have no such protections from your employer. If Voodoo Jack had come out and said women should be protected from Commanders owner Dan Snyder, how long do you think he would on the team’s payroll?

Beyond that, though, this is a business issue. Voodoo Jack’s comments cost Snyder money, and more. The Virginia stadium proposal — once a $400 million deal for the Commanders stadium development in Woodbridge — is now all but dead. State Sen. Jeremy McPike was not a supporter of the proposal before Voodoo Jack’s comments. But he said on Twitter, “Just sealed the deal to cast my vote as no. I think what’s burning today is the stadium bill.”

It may have burnt up anyway. But Voodoo Jack’s comments, at the very least, cost the Commanders some political capital in Virginia, when they can’t afford to lose any — not a sliver.

At this pace, Snyder is going to be able to build his “mini-city” with Legos.

On Thursday, District Council Member Charles Allen issued a statement saying he and others in a majority of council members let Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s non-voting representative in Congress, know that they will “not support on NFL stadium as part of the future of the RFK campus. The debate is done.”

Allen went on to say on Twitter that “while yesterday’s offensive comments by a team coach is yet another reason not to spend public money on the team, the fact remains simple: football stadiums are a uniquely bad use of tax dollars.”

The stadium was dead already in the city, despite Mayor Muriel Bowser’s support. But Voodoo Jack’s comments cost those who are still trying to salvage that effort. It cost the Commanders political capital in the city, where they have none.

By now, Voodoo Jack should be out of work and making the Fox News talk show rounds as the celebrated victim. But he’s a buffoon, a cartoon character — Voodoo Jack, the bad guy in a Scooby-Doo episode.

This rot, like all the rot with this franchise, starts at the top. We have come to expect this kind of drama under Snyder.

But Jason Wright was hired to be the new adult, the one to change the horrific daily conversation about this football team. It has only deteriorated since he arrived in August 2020. He is supposed to be the one that is shepherding this stadium project through the rough waters, and it is has become the Titanic under his watch. The Sean Taylor tribute debacle, the Commanders unveiling flop and now this Voodoo Jack embarrassment.

What has Jason Wright done right? Not be Bruce Allen.

Everyone in that building should have been under strict daily orders not to say, on any platform, anything politically that would put at risk the very political process of getting a new football stadium. I mean, your defensive coach is contributing to your stadium campaign collapse. That’s unbelievable.

There has been no evidence of leadership, no discipline from the team president.

In other words, business as usual for this football team, no matter what they are called or who is in charge.

Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.