The Chicago Bears has always prided itself on valuing character in its players — often passing on talented players with off-field conduct problems. For that reason, many (myself included) were not thrilled with the decision to take defensive end Ray McDonald on a one year contract after he was dumped by the 49ers. He was desperate to find a team after an arrest on suspicion of felony domestic violence. He swore that he would use the opportunity with the Bears to redeem himself. That chance ended today with a release by the Bears within hours of McDonald being arrested in California on charges of domestic violence and child endangerment.
So McDonald was released by the 49ers only last December is under arrest again with police saying that he “physically assaulted the victim while she was holding a baby.”
That is the third incident in nine months for McDonald. The sexual assault from December is still being investigated. McDonald has said that he will sue the accuser in the second incident, but such a lawsuit may be more problematic with the third arrest.
This failure rests with Ryan Pace. Bears chairman George McCaskey reportedly had reservations about signing McDonald — reflecting the Bears traditional approach to such character questions. However, some are blaming McCaskey who said that he was won over after sitting down with McDonald and his parents — as opposed to his victims. These are the same guys who got rid of Marshall (one of my favorite players) because he was a distraction after telling the truth about the shortcomings of the Cutler offense last season.
When asked about his failure to even speak with the victims, McCaskey dug his hole deeper and said: “An alleged victim, I think — much like anybody else who has a bias in this situation — there’s a certain amount of discounting in what they have to say.” Unlike the alleged perp and the perp’s parents? No discounting there?
McDonald, 30, will now join a long list of wasted talent. In 59 regular-season games and eight playoff games for the 49ers over four seasons, he made 14 sacks.
For most people who only dream of a NFL career, it is difficult to understand how these players cannot control themselves in their private lives. With millions and a career at stake, they seem incapable of personal control. The most obvious such case is Aaron Hernandez who seemed incapable of being anything over than a thug despite his huge success and wealth as a Patriots player. He has reportedly found his niche with a gang in prison, even serving as a look out for a gang member.
McDonald will likely be a cautionary tale for years to come. It was a departure from the Bears Golden Rule and the team has now paid for it with a new hole in the defense.