I was one of the vocal minorities who was against bringing Ray McDonald to the Bears back in March. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, especially because they just traded Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets. Marshall, who had his own demons to battle, was a model citizen off the field. By most accounts, the Bears are in a rebuilding mode with a new GM, Ryan Pace and a new head coach in John Fox. So why risk alienating a portion of your fan-base and part of your locker room?
It would make more sense if he was the “final piece” to a contending team. I could buy that. At least they structured his contract where he didn’t get a dime up front. This goes way beyond money though. This is not just a business decision. Not when you are potentially funding the livelihood of a serial abuser. Let’s be honest. This is what Ray McDonald is. This is why people are upset, and rightfully so. Kyle Long had this to say on twitter:
So far, he is the only Bear other than Ryan Pace, in a statement, to speak out. Was this worth bringing that kind of guy into the locker room? Even if it alienates a third of the team. What kind of message does this send to the players, especially the younger ones? What does it say to the men and women in the organization? Domestic violence is okay, as long as you are sorry and promise not to do it again? Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not right. You screw up, you go make it right. If you get a second chance, you take advantage of it or you go do something else with your life. I really hope Ray McDonald gets the help he needs and gets his life in order.
To me, there are certain risks you take: Injured players, older players, unproven players. Brandon Marshall was a good example of a low risk/high reward situation. He might have been a little hard to handle in the locker room, but a good coach should be able to do that. A solid locker room, should have been able to do that. The Bears failed on that one too. Marshall held up his end of he bargain.
Not every player is going to be a choir boy, and frankly they shouldn’t be. Football is a violent sport. It takes a certain type of person to be able to go out there and take a beating. I get that. I personally have no place for people who commit violent crimes on another human being though. Especially women or kids. I’m pretty sure most people feel the same way. I’m fairly sure the McCaskey family feels the same way. Which was a little hard to swallow when they signed McDonald.
Hopefully Ryan Pace will take full ownership on this and meet the media today, and take the focus off the team. This is his “mulligan” so to speak. Not sure it was a wise one to use it on, but that’s out of his hands now.