For Bears chairman, plenty to second guess in McDonald case

Published May. 27, 2015 1:51 p.m. ET

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey said Wednesday he has repeatedly second-guessed his decision to approve the Ray McDonald signing and asked himself what he could have done differently.

McDonald was released by the team Monday following a domestic violence arrest for an incident in Santa Clara, California, in which he allegedly broke down a bedroom door to get to his ex-fiancee and their infant. The Santa Clara Police Department said Wednesday night that he was arrested again for violating a restraining order stemming from that incident.

McCaskey, speaking earlier in the day, said he thought the Bears were thorough before signing the defensive end to a one-year deal in March and had the safeguards in place to make the move work.

''I've asked myself that question a lot. What more could I have done?'' McCaskey said. ''Is there somebody else we could have consulted with? Should I have taken more time to make a decision? I don't know. We thought we had a good structure, a good support system. We thought we had safeguards in place in case something like this happened.''

Did the move affect the chairman's confidence in new general manager Ryan Pace.

''We have complete confidence in Ryan,'' McCaskey said.

He said he was not involved in the decision to release McDonald because ''I didn't need to be. They knew what needed to be done and did it.''


McCaskey said his reaction to the arrest was, ''Sadness for the child, for the child's mother and the entire situation.''

As for McDonald's release, running back Matt Forte had a different reaction.

''My first initial thought was, `Man, we could have used him on defense,''' he said.

The Bears knew they were taking a risk when they signed McDonald. The San Francisco 49ers released him in December citing a ''pattern of poor decision-making.''

That move came just a month after Santa Clara County prosecutors declined to file charges against McDonald in a separate domestic violence investigation stemming from an arrest on Aug. 31 while celebrating his 30th birthday at his Northern California home. Prosecutors cited conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a lack of cooperation by the alleged victim, McDonald's fiancee, in explaining their decision.

But his trouble continued.

In March, McDonald filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman who had accused him of rape.

McDonald says security camera footage will show a consensual sexual encounter occurred in his hot tub. Police say the woman doesn't recall any sexual encounters and reported blacking out after drinking alcohol and falling at McDonald's home.

She said she went to police after waking up naked next to McDonald. The Santa Clara County district attorney is looking at the case.

McCaskey initially balked at signing McDonald but changed his mind after the player paid his way to Chicago for a face-to-face meeting. He spoke to McDonald's parents. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who came from the 49ers, put in a good word for him, too.

But McCaskey said he did not reach out to the accusers or any of the lawyers involved in the cases because he did not want to interfere in any criminal or league investigations.

''I thought a lot about that, too,'' McCaskey said. ''Not just before signing him but since. One of my concerns was the bias anybody has in that situation. An alleged victim wants to make sure that charges are filed. An alleged perpetrator is doing everything he can to make sure that charges aren't filed. So that was part of it. But a larger concern to me was that I didn't want to interfere with any criminal investigation or with any league investigation by talking to the child's mother.''

McCaskey said the Bears had a ''good dialogue'' with anti-domestic violence agencies before the McDonald signing and afterward. But he insisted it was the Bears' decision to release him.

The decision to sign McDonald raised all sorts of questions, particularly since they are coming off a five-win season and not widely considered contenders. Plus, domestic violence became a major topic of conversation in the NFL last year because of a series of high-profile cases involving players, most notably Ray Rice.

McCaskey was asked about the possibility of the NFL punishing teams that sign players who get arrested. He said the league is not considering that, as far as he knows.

''I haven't heard any discussion about that, either on the committee or among the membership,'' said McCaskey, a member of the NFL's conduct committee. ''It might be something that would be worth the discussion (but) I don't know that there was any consensus on that issue at all.''

Notes: Forte, who has one-year left on his contract, says he plans to show up on time for training camp whether he has an extension or not. ... TE Martellus Bennett was not present at Wednesday's voluntary workout.



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