Bears will forgive Deiondre’ Hall’s sins — if he can play
In this divided world, it’s nice to know there’s at least one thing on which we all can agree: Getting tased looks extremely unpleasant. Fifty thousand volts of electricity invading your body? I’d rather listen to Chris Berman and Yoko Ono sing “(You’re) Having My Baby’’ than go through that.
The way Bears cornerback Deiondre’ Hall behaved before police zapped him sounds like a standard night out in the NFL. Player allegedly pounds drinks in a bar, gets into a fight, resists arrest and spits in officers’ faces. Officer tases player in the leg. Player is carried off like a bag of laundry. Team says it is gathering information.
Cedar Falls, Iowa, police arrested Hall early Sunday morning for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Packers cornerback Makinton Dorleant, a former teammate of Hall’s at Northern Iowa, also was cited for interference in the incident.
Since the Bears hired him in 2015, general manager Ryan Pace has gone on and on about the importance of players’ character, possibly because he means it and possibly because it’s what GMs are supposed to say. But what behavior reaches a level that calls for a player’s dismissal in the NFL? Is it getting stumbling drunk in public? Is it getting into a fight in a bar? Is it being so out of control that police have to reach for their Tasers?
History tells me that none of these things scream for a team to release a player unless – and here’s the important part – the player isn’t overly talented and someone as good is available to take his place. There must be some kind of formula that NFL franchises go by in these matters. Hmmm, three misdemeanors. Not good. But an interception and three pass defenses in eight games last season. Points for potential. Spitting on a police officer. Awful. Fourth-round draft pick in 2016. Pretty valuable. This is a tie, and in football, the tie goes to the slugger.
We’re about to find out if the Bears think Hall is a good football player or can become one.
If they do, he stays.
If they don’t, he takes his football, his spittle and his shocked leg somewhere else.
If Hall stays, the Bears will say their investigation showed mitigating circumstances and that everybody deserves a second chance.
If he goes, the Bears will say they can’t tolerate such terrible behavior aimed at police, who put their lives on the line everyday.
It’s worth remembering that Pace was the guy who signed Ray McDonald, a player with a long history of bad behavior. As good a defensive lineman as he was, he wasn’t good enough to overcome a domestic violence charge not long after he signed with the Bears. He was waived. You win some, you lose some in the moral craps game that is the NFL.
The ingredients in the Hall case are pretty simple: Professional athlete, bar, nighttime, booze and, if I had to bet, jealousy in some form. We don’t know the details yet. Maybe this is about an aggressive defensive back who had too many drinks or maybe it’s about a health-club bro who wanted to prove his toughness against a pro athlete. Maybe it involved a woman. I don’t know. I do know that it’s Pace’s problem.
According to police, the disturbance inside and outside a Cedar Falls bar lasted 20 to 30 minutes. When officers detained Hall, people in the crowd reportedly began throwing debris at the police. Maybe this is the Fourth Phase enthusiasm the Bears used to talk about.
Teams can’t ban players from bars, nor can they babysit them. But just because Pace can’t watch his players all the time doesn’t mean he gets a pass on Hall’s arrest. When you put this much due diligence into vetting players, you deserve some of the blame for a failure of character. Was there anything in Hall’s background that pointed to this? Nothing comes up in a Google search, but a Google search isn’t why the Bears pay investigators big money to look into draft picks’ lives.
The knuckle-draggers among us will say that the Bears could use more Halls on their rosters to do battle with other teams’ miscreants. The rest of us will hold Pace’s feet to the fire when he says character matters.
I’m not sure why teams even bother trying to sell wholesomeness, though. Anyone who pays attention to sports knows that a day doesn’t go by without a college or pro athlete getting into trouble with the law. And anyone who pays attention to sports knows that wayward athletes get chance after chance if they excel at their craft.
The system bothers me, but after watching Cubs fans cheer girlfriend abuser Aroldis Chapman, I wonder if it bothers anybody else.