Decision to sign troubled McDonald blows up in McCaskey’s face

SHARE Decision to sign troubled McDonald blows up in McCaskey’s face

The Bears don’t like me much, and that’s OK. I’ve been consistently critical of the franchise, and I have never been in the business of being friends with the McCaskeys or, for that matter, any owner, coach or player in any sport. Hence, the arctic shoulder from the Bears. So be it.

I only bring this up because, although team chairman George McCaskey would probably cross the street if he saw me walking toward him, he was quick to embrace defensive end Ray McDonald, a man with a history of trouble. The Bears sure are nice to troubled human beings who can tackle the quarterback.

On Monday, Santa Clara, Calif., police arrested McDonald on domestic violence and child endangerment charges. He is accused of assaulting a woman while she was holding a baby, the most recent in a series of legal brushes he has had. The Bears released him Monday afternoon, but it was too late. The damage had already been done.

When new Bears general manager Ryan Pace approached McCaskey in the offseason about pursuing McDonald, the chairman looked at the player’s extensive file and said no. McDonald then flew on his own dime to meet with McCaskey at Halas Hall. And McCaskey went weak in the knees.

“I was impressed with how sincere he was and how motivated he is,’’ the chairman said after the signing. “He understands, I think, that he could have well been facing the end of his football career. And he loves football. And he wants that career to continue. So I was impressed with his motivation.’’

With judgment like this, McCaskey doesn’t need a death wish.

Sunday’s arrest has exposed the chairman either as a disingenuous owner who talks about character and knowingly goes the other way, or as someone who is as naïve as a puppy.

For the sake of fairness, let’s say that McDonald is not guilty of the most recent charges. It wouldn’t make him any more suitable to be a Bear. If he was in the wrong place at the wrong time Monday, that makes three times in the past year he has been in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s a player who is not worth the risk. That was a player who wasn’t worth the risk when the Bears signed him in March.

In separate incidents last year, McDonald was arrested in a domestic-dispute case and was a suspect in a sexual-assault case. He wasn’t charged either time. You could hear the song of sorrow from Halas Hall when they signed him: He’s so misunderstood!

Asked at the time of the signing if he had tried to get the accuser’s version of events in the sexual-assault case, McCaskey did not endear himself to women.

“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,’’ he said. “But our personnel department had done its work looking into the background and the incidents. And we had the benefit of two coaches who had been with him with the 49ers.’’

One of those coaches was new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. What do you expect from a football coach? The chairman of a billion-dollar business should know better.

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