The Bears’ decision to sign defensive end Ray McDonald, who had been arrested for domestic abuse and accused of sexual assault in 2014, triggered local and national scrutiny.
On Tuesday, chairman George McCaskey was asked to clarify a statement he made at the NFL annual meetings in March, regarding his decision not to speak to the alleged victim because of a bias. McCaskey was criticized for his remarks.
“I did say something about that and I said the same thing in context of talking to Ray’s parents,” McCaskey said at the Ed Block Courage Award luncheon. “There’s going to be some bias, one side or the other, depending on what their perspective is. I also said that I didn’t want to interfere with any investigation on the criminal side or on the league side.”
McCaskey hasn’t spoken to McDonald since their original meeting, which resulted in his decision to approve the signing of the former San Francisco 49er after initially being against it.
McDonald hasn’t been promised anything. He was signed to a one-year deal worth up to $1.05 million, but there were no guarantees. McDonald’s character still needs to be evaluated.
“ I don’t know that I can speak expertly, because it was just one conversation,” McCaskey said when asked about McDonald’s character. “It was one lengthy [conversation]. It was in-depth. It took a lot out of him. It took a lot out of me. I’m confident that he’s going to do what needs to be done. He’s going to do what’s expected of us and it’s up to him now.”
McCaskey did speak to members of the York family, the 49ers owners, after the Bears signed McDonald.
“The sense I got is that they like him very much as a person, but questioned his decision-making,” McCaskey said. “That’s something that Ray and I talked about and that I told him needs to be improved.”
As for the public backlash over McDonald’s arrival, McCaskey was and is OK with it.
“I didn’t think there was that much backlash,” he said.
Love for Garza
The Bears decision to release center Roberto Garza after 10 seasons was heartbreaking for McCaskey.
“Very difficult,” he said. “The O-line sticks together, and they have a lot of respect for each other. He’s been a tremendous Bear for 10 seasons. Just a class act all the way around.
“Talk about reaction in the media, afterwards, a lot of hard-bitten journalists had some very nice things to say about him and they were well-deserved.”
Looking at locals
Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian, safety Ibraheim Campbell and receiver Kyle Prater (Proviso West) took part in the the Bears’ local pro day at Halas Hall.
Other quarterbacks included Taylor Graham (Hawaii, Wheaton North), Chandler Whitmer (Connecticut, Downers Grove South) and Matt Behrendt (Wisconsin-Whitewater, Nazareth).
Safety Corey Cooper (Nebraska, Proviso East), offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (Michigan State, Fort Lewis, Mount Carmel) and tight ends Matt LaCosse (Illinois, Naperville North), James O’Shaughnessy (Illinois State, Naperville North) and E.J. Bibbs (Iowa State, Bogan) also were among the participants.