Jack Del Rio situation reconfirms how divided we are as a people

OTA for the Washington Commanders
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Following the mass murder in Uvalde, Texas, the people of this country largely came together to demand change — even if a minority of politicians beholden to certain special interests refuse to implement it.

Following the recent events culminating in a $100,000 fine imposed by the Washington Commanders on defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (and the non-stop stream of pointed and hostile emails I’ve received), it’s more clear than ever that the nation is sharply divided. To the point at which it is two different countries residing within the same common borders.

This isn’t about trying to change that depressing reality, or hoping to persuade one or more members of USA Red to defect to USA Blue. (My preferred goal is to carve out a plot of land in USA Purple. That’s where most Americans actually would like to reside but can’t, thanks to a two-party system that requires a blood oath to all planks of the platform.) This is about our shared reality of political discourse that has melted into insults, profanity, and hatred.

There can be no debate. No middle ground. It’s all black and white. It’s all absolute. And no one will ever take a step back and ask whether their position makes sense or requires refinement. Instead, all energy is devoted to circling the wagons while crafting the talking points aimed at supporting the position we endorse and attacking the one we oppose.

For NFL purposes, the divide is best demonstrated by the reaction to the fining of Jack Del Rio and the shunning of Colin Kaepernick. The free-speech crowd that so fervently supported Kaepernick is now arguing that Del Rio’s fine for speaking his mind was justified, if not insufficient. And the Blue Lives Matter crew that chastised Kaepernick for disrespecting the nation by kneeling during the anthem is now siding with Del Rio’s effort to minimize an attack that put plenty of blue lives in peril.

Regardless of perspective, we’re so caught up in defending our own views and fighting back against the opinions of others that we no longer even try to engage in a reasoned debate. It’s dueling banjos, but the banjos are playing two sharply different tunes at the same damn time. We shout our own views so loudly that we never hear any others. We’re at the point where we don’t want to.

Meanwhile, much of the truth remains, as it always does, somewhere in the middle. Even though much of the middle has become a barren, dry bed — a broad, empty parting of the Red-and-Blue Sea.

I don’t know what to do about any of it. The things that seem obviously right to me and those who think like me seem obviously wrong to others. And it’s getting worse, instead of better.

One side thinks the other side is under a spell. Maybe both sides are under a spell. Whether it’s coming from forces foreign or domestic or both, we’re being driven to spend so much time fighting about the things that make us different that we’re ignoring the things we have in common.

Surely, at our cores, we’re more alike than different. We’re fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. Cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts. Co-workers. Friends. Neighbors. People who ultimately want to live our finite and fleeting years left in peace, harmony, and happiness.

What we do here is intended to be a diversion from the things that divide us, unless and until those things inevitably overlap with football. You know by now that I think Kaepernick was treated unfairly. But I think Del Rio was, too. It was enough for him to be publicly chastised by those who disagree with his belief that the events of January 6 were a “dustup at the Capitol.” The fine imposed by the team (and placed in the name of Ron Rivera because he’s the only one in the building with the credentials and moral authority to pull it off) was a business decision, no different than the business decision made by the league when it shunned Kaepernick.

The Commanders fear that Del Rio’s words, if unpunished, will keep them from getting free money for a new stadium. The NFL and its teams feared that employing Kaepernick would result in a certain segment of the fan base devoting less time, money, and attention to the sport. Both outcomes were wrong. Kaepernick was within his rights to kneel during the anthem, Del Rio was within his rights to speak his mind about January 6, and those who disagreed with either man were within their rights to voice their disagreement.

I choose to be hopeful that there’s middle ground to be had on the many of the issues that are driving us farther and farther apart. I choose to be hopeful that it will happen without a world war, or a war of the worlds. If we all spend less time focusing on how to spin the latest set of facts through our own prism of political views and more time searching for the common thread that holds people of fair minds and open hearts together, maybe we can eventually end this cold civil war that has us more divided than we’ve been since the hot one.

50 responses to “Jack Del Rio situation reconfirms how divided we are as a people

  1. As a 53 yr. old man who grow up in Ohio & WV & lived in WV & NC & Tenn
    I agree with this & this country has become a very toxic please to live

  2. People often forget that words have consequences. We are guaranteed that the government cannot keep us from speaking our minds, but too often overlooked is the reality that the speaker can experience negative blowback and should not be surprised as and when it happens.

  3. Excuse me, everyone, but ‘both sides’ don’t try to ruin our democratic systems by not accepting the results of a fair election. And the only time in over 240 years when one party refuses to accept a peaceful transfer of power is not just a ‘dustup.’ It’s an insurrection and an attempted coup. There’s no ‘both sides’ on that.

  4. Well written. Reasonable people could agree with this article. Working towards that end, we have to recognize there are no such things as “alternative facts” and when we disagree there has to be some kind of conspiracy theory behind it. A core human value is to speak the truth and be honest.

  5. Well said, there really isn’t an issue with having productive debates as the main problem is we need leadership to dispell the polarization energy getting in the way of progress. We can actually convert that negative force into a positive force for a double-value effect on the nation. #Love+Unity+Logic=Progress

  6. Well written Mike and I agree with your sentiments. As a country we need to get back to being polite, respectful of others, and speak only the truth. Lying should have consequences not praise. A dust up is not an insurrection…that’s insulting and a lie . As a 75 year old Viet Nam Vet it’s said to see this country no longer the shining city on the hill but just like third world disasters where guns are the only communication.

    Thanks Mike we all needed that.

  7. Well-written, Mike, and needed. Everyone on here loves football. At least we have that in common and, surely, much more.

  8. Ive been reading on this site for years and i think this is the best, spot on article ive read here. I think most people are in the purple crowd but the media likes to give the extreme fringes on both sides the tallest loudest platform. Until the media starts focusing on the purple, nothing is going to change.

  9. That Purple thing just might work.
    I mean, who would want to speak out against the Purple Gang.

  10. Mike, I’ve always felt like you would be a good political writer. I have trouble figuring out if you’re liberal or conservative, and that’s a good thing. You’re middle ground. You’re common sense. When I was young, people would go to the polls and often vote for candidates from both parties. No more. We’re hearing extreme voices on the radio and TV every day that have created this divide. It didn’t use to be like that. Our two party system is done. Most democrats actually preferred Bernie Sanders, who isn’t even a democrat, and most republicans preferred Donald Trump, who isn’t a Republican. Neither major party has a candidate that anyone likes. The Supreme Court, several years ago, passed a law (5-4 decision) that opened up the floodgates for unlimited corporate bribery. Candidates can’t do what their constituents want because the big money special interests have all the power. None of us voted for any of those Supreme Court justices. All it takes is five unelected justices to ruin our country. I think the Supreme Court needs to go. We have activists on the Supreme Court who have more power than all of our elected officials combined. Florio, you should start a purple party. You have the rhetorical skills to get the message out, and you understand the media. Most Americans love our country, but we’re constantly being told to blame each other for the problems, so we’re at war against ourselves.

  11. If one side focuses on facts and proof and one side focuses on opinions and suspicions, there’s nothing left to discuss. You can’t reason with an unreasonable person. I won’t talk to anybody that believes The Big Lie. Show us your proof of voter fraud, show us your proof of conspiracies, give us a smoking gun, give us anything at all, anything, or do not expect to be taken seriously. This is a contentious situation only because the uneducated don’t want to get their feelings hurt so they choose to believe whatever they want. Give us something, or get in the back of the line.

  12. When my actions truly affect no one else, I can then do as I please. As soon as one other person is affected by my action, it becomes my responsibility to respect that those who are affected have a right to feel differently than I do. This is not an infringement upon my freedoms, it is called compromise, and it is necessary in a civil society.

  13. January 6 was the first dust-up that I’ve ever seen that included a gallows, 3 dead police officers, over 100 injured police officers..many permanently injured and a dead insurrectionist. IT was the first time the US Capitol had been attacked since the War of 1812.

    Del Rio may want to look up the meaning of “dust-up”.

  14. Problem is – the people on the extreme ends see themselves as “purple” and believe all rational people agree with them. It’s the ones who don’t live in echo chambers who realize they are red/blue or lean red/blue but will work to get along wiith others, even while disagreeing.

    Example? Anyone who believes that either “dustup’ or “organic eruptions” are fair and legit descriptions isn’t anywhere near purple country.

  15. Very big difference between Del Rio and Kaepernick- Jack got pinched offering his opinion between acts of violence against communities ,federal buildings, and authorities Portland and Seattle and Jan.6 Kaepernick’s antics disrespected a flag and national anthem than many soldiers fought and died for !!! If all Kaep really wanted NFL and national assistance he had other options but they didn’t have the flair disrespecting the national anthem had. If we truly look at the damage and heartbreak caused by these issues ??
    Jan.6 is small potatoes compared to what ANTIFA AND BLM AND THE SUMMER OF LOVE MAYOR CAUSED !!!

  16. Well said Mike but looking at all the thumbs down to peoples responses that dared to compliment your opinion are discouraging if you think there is any hope for middle ground here. I think this side choosing all started in the ‘90’s with Limbaugh and his divisive propaganda and it has only gotten worse with the expansion of cable TV and social media. charliecharger listed a major problem as well, unidentified corporate campaign contributions. The majority may well want to be in the middle and want a purple party but make no mistake, this is a 2 party system as we stand here today so you’re usually forced to vote against someone instead of for them. We’re too divided as a country to have a multi-party free for all. Saw it in action here in Texas several years back, 3 “candidates” for governor – Rick “Oops” Perry, Chris Bell and Kinky Friedman, running as an independent. Friedman had absolutely no business running for any public office but he got enough votes to water down the results – still came in 3rd and Perry barely won with 37% of the vote or something like that. Be careful what you wish for on that 3rd party business. Anyway, thanks for recognizing that even though this is supposed to be a football only site, the real world is important to people as well. I believe Del Rio expressed a personal opinion wearing Commanders gear in the Commanders practice facility and standing in front of a banner with the Commanders and corporate sponsor logos on it so he was subject to disciplinary actions if they didn’t agree and makes all of this fair game this site.

  17. kezarguy says:
    June 12, 2022 at 10:48 am
    Excuse me, everyone, but ‘both sides’ don’t try to ruin our democratic systems by not accepting the results of a fair election. And the only time in over 240 years when one party refuses to accept a peaceful transfer of power is not just a ‘dustup.’ It’s an insurrection and an attempted coup. There’s no ‘both sides’ on that.

    To be blunt, if you can’t recognize that BOTH sides pull this stuff, then you are part of the problem. Hillary didn’t accept the election. More than 200 people were arrested at Trump’s inauguration as windows were smashed at the Capitol. Some nutjob just tried to assassinate a sitting Supreme Court Judge to push their “progressive” agenda. When half the country says the other is 100% wrong and they are 100% right, that tells me (and any logical human) that both sides are full of it. Take off the blinders and start respecting each other – that’s kind of the point of this article if you took the time to read it.

  18. I guess trying to take Trump down by creating a false Russia negative and Ukrainian quid pro quo isn’t considered a coup attempt right Mike? Only that was done by our government.

  19. We are polarized.. The left is too far left and the right too far right. Which leads to a very passioned polarization.. Del Rio was wrong in painting a minimization of events that took place on 1-6-21.. A “dust up” it wasn’t.. An insurrection with two deaths is what it was.

    Del Rio is right when it comes to the lack of concern by the left with the rioting and violence that took place in 2020. The left dismissed it.. Minimized it. Not right..

    We need a more centrist leader or leaders to bring us back together. And perhaps that time has come with the refudiation recently in SF and LA at the Polls where voters rejected leftist incumbants with Laissez Faire policies on crime. Perhaps the Senate will pass gun legislation that will make a material with regards to the epidemic of mass shootings taking place almost weekly now in this country.

    Something must change. Too much not getting done socially economically and politically…

  20. giambocca says:
    Kaepernick’s antics disrespected a flag and national anthem than many soldiers fought and died for

    Storming the US Capitol and using flagpoles (with flags attached) as weapons to attack the DC Police and Federal officers shows zero respect for the flag. You’re complaining about Kaepernick while supporting people who routinely violate the US Flag Code. That b&w blue line flag, using the flag for clothing (all of those “patriotic” clothes that look like the US flag), letting the flag touch the ground – these all desecrate the flag. It sounds like you’re choosing to overlook all of them.

    People fight and die for the US Constitution, not a piece of cloth or a song. Oaths are sworn to protect the Constitution. Kaepernick’s peaceful protest was about how the police frequently deny people with dark skin their Constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thanks to cell phones and police body cameras, we’re seeing them do this to innocent people. Those facts aren’t up for debate. Jan 6 was not a peaceful protest. It was about a sitting President who did not want to accept the election results, even after multiple recounts, audits, and members of his family and staff telling him he’d lost. That’s a bigger problem than Kaepernick kneeling on a sideline.

  21. Your so close you almost missed it. If the Riots that followed the BLM protests had been correctly policed and the perpetrators of that violence and destruction had been properly held accountable, Then so many on the right would not be looking the other way on Jan 6th. The Bias is clear and unfair. The right justifies the actions of Jan 6th because they are being prosecuted when similar crimes from the left are not. This is reinforced by the media censoring the right and promoting the left. This unfairness is the cause of our divided nation and it must come to an end or our nation will fall.

  22. The right justifies the actions of Jan 6th because they are being prosecuted when similar crimes from the left are not.


    When did the “left” attempt to disrupt congressional proceedings and attempt to prevent the transition of power?
    There’s nothing similar about the BLM uprisings and the people at the Capital looking to drag politicians out of the building and lynch them.
    Your confusion is understandable….we’ve never see a violent attempted coup in this country before. But Jan. 6 is what that looks like.

  23. The storming of the capital wasn’t just a dust up. Just like the George Floyd protests weren’t peaceful.. can we all at least agree on that? It goes back to what our mothers and grandmothers used to tell us and that is “two wrongs don’t make a right”. There were horrible people involved in both things, regardless of their political affiliation.

  24. ericc says:
    June 12, 2022 at 6:56 pm
    Your opinion is so far skewed that it makes the point of this article and several comments. Nothing you said is remotely close to true, but you beleive it to be true. There are dozens, possibly hundreds of media sources on the right that do nothing but perpetrate lies and you just choose to beleive them.

    The right justifies the actions of Jan 6th because they wanted to overthrow a lawful election. It has nothing to do with what happened during BLM protests. That is a false narrative. They wanted to keep Trump in power.

    As far as what happened during the BLM protests not being properly policed, I’m not sure what you are talking about. Lots of arrests were made and there were lots of acts of violence perpetrated by police against the people protesting. Those include a 70+ man who was thrown to the ground and tear gassings and shootings of protestors with bean bag guns and laughing about it. I saw one video where a peaceful protestor was standing within site of a polceman. A conservative counter protestor came up and hit him from behind in the head and the policeman did nothing.

    The conservative media celebrated these attacks on protestors and called out for more, including shooting them down in the streets which culminated in a young, gullable impressionable person putting himself in harms way and actually killing people. This person is now glorified by the right-wing media and politicians as a hero. But consider, if he’d been killed by one of the people he killed, would the same media claim the person who killed him was acting in self defense? I think not.

    So the things you are saying stem from lies that conservative media and websites tell you that you beleive because they align with what you want to beleive. Just the fact that you say the right is willing to look the other way on something as serious as what occurred on Jan 6th because of something else that happened is sad and astounding. In your view do two wrongs make a right?

    If both events are wrong shouldn’t all conservatives want both looked into and people held accountable? That’s what I want. Anyone commiting violence during the BLM protests is no one I beleive is fighting for that cause, because I beleive it hurts the cause (FYI, some of the vandalism was perpetrated by right wing provocateurs who were hoping to provoke a civil war). Same with the people who carried out what happened on Jan 6th. If you truly beleive in the fairness that you seem to think doesn’t exist, wouldn’t you want the same.

  25. message from rest of the free world – DONT DO WHAT THE USA DOES – cause they are clueless

  26. What’s right what’s left. We are all the same we bleed red we are born we live and die. What happened to sticks and stones idk word are word actions speak louder. I’m a midwestern man that just wants the American dream. Have we forgot about life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. People have opinions that’s their right we can disagree and it’s still ok. Suck the earth dry or try and persevere it. Just do it and live it

  27. I’m about Mike Florio’s age and I can’t remember a time in my lifetime when we weren’t divided, except during the Gulf War and for a year or so following 9/11. Not sure what’s different now other than the existence of garbage dumps like Twitter. We’ve ALWAYS been divided. More folks can just register their feelings than in the past. We’ve been divided since before (and during) the Revolutionary War. We fought a war amongst ourselves. Bitter division is our normal state.

  28. radar773 says:
    June 12, 2022 at 4:14 pm
    January 6 was the first dust-up that I’ve ever seen that included a gallows, 3 dead police officers, over 100 injured police officers..many permanently injured and a dead insurrectionist. IT was the first time the US Capitol had been attacked since the War of 1812.

    Del Rio may want to look up the meaning of “dust-up”.
    You really should learn some history. The Capitol has been attacked multiple times since 1814. Three bombs have gone off in the Capitol. Two Capitol police officers were murdered in 1998 on the steps of the Capitol. The floor of Congress was shot up in 1954 by Puerto Rican Nationalists.

  29. Florio I actually agree with you. The spell you alluded to is mostly cable network news. Political perspective that is either right or left, red or blue! What happened to political thought without spin, opinion based on the issue or what could be called altruism!

  30. We will never return to a rational state where we might agree, disagree, or agree to disagree on important matters until we return to a state where we all first agree on facts and reality. But as long as there are powerful people and powerful organizations making millions and billions of dollars simply by peddling lies and marketing fear and bogeymen…and as long as there are tens of millions of people who prefer to be fed those lies and those fears rather than rise to the challenges of the real world, a common set of facts will remain beyond our reach.

  31. I agree. And I usually don’t agree with you politically. Very well said.

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