Ray McDonald‘s time with the Chicago Bears lasted just over two months.
The controversial defensive end was signed to a one-year deal on March 25, and his Bears career ended Monday morning, when the team released him following his arrest in Northern California on a misdemeanor violence and child endangerment charge, as first reported by NBC Bay Area reporter Damian Trujillo:
The Santa Clara Police Department dispatched officers to the home of McDonald on Monday morning at 3:48 am local time, and he was eventually arrested at the home of recently-retired 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith at 7:00 am local time.
The SCPD stated in a press release that officers arrested McDonald after he “physically assaulted the victim while she was holding a baby.”
This is McDonald’s third run-in with the law in within the last year. According to Cindy Boren of The Washington Post, he was arrested for suspicion of domestic violence in August of last year. In December, Tom Lutz of The Guardian reported that the 49ers released McDonald after learning that he was being investigated for sexual assault.
This is all just so upsetting to me.
Domestic violence and child abuse have been prevalent themes in the NFL in the past year, highlighted by the video-proven assault of Janay Rice by her then-fiancée and current husband, Ray Rice.
Adrian Peterson missed all but one game last season following his arrest in Texas after hitting his then-four-year-old son with a switch, as a means of discipline.
And now this.
While it’s possible that Rice will never get signed by an NFL organization again, and now Peterson’s Hall of Fame career is tarnished, it’s simply not enough.
Domestic violence isn’t a social issue. It’s not something that can be debated in court or voted on like marijuana laws–a subject that is one of great discussion among NFL players.
Domestic violence isn’t something that fundraisers and charities can help cure like breast cancer–a type of cancer that the NFL shows constant awareness for, even decorating the league in pink during October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Domestic violence is a problem.
It’s something that is happening literally every minute in the United States. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.”
This adds up to over 10 million domestic assaults a year.
According to the organization’s website, 20,000 phone calls are placed on a typical day to domestic violence hotlines across the nation, meaning the McDonald situation is literally just one of thousands and thousands of other cases that occurred yesterday.
The website also states that “intimate partner violence” makes up 15 percent of the nation’s violent crimes, among other horrifying facts about the subject at hand.
And it’s not enough that the player is just released or suspended for an indefinite amount of time. The current domestic violence policy–which was passed by the NFL in December–says that a player charged for domestic violence, assault and child abuse, among other assualt-based criminal activity will receive a “baseline suspension of six games.”
It’s not enough.
People like Ray McDonald, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson (yes, ADRIAN PETERSON) need to be banned from the NFL, whether it be on the field or some other association. Clarification: By banned, I mean only if and when they are found guilty of the charges by the United States court system. (In an earlier version of this article, I did not specifically state that the players should only be banned once they have been found guilty. In no way did I mean that the NFL should act in lieu of the court system).
Yes, it seems extreme to ban players. And yes, I enjoy watching the best athletes in the world compete on the biggest stages. But extreme problems call for extreme measures, and domestic violence is an extreme problem.
As I previously mentioned, domestic violence is not an issue that can solely be fixed by raising funds or creating charities.
There will never be a way to get rid of domestic violence, but the only way to experience a decrease in this problem is to raise awareness.
The NFL has already put awareness into play, as it started to air ads of former and current players, such as current ESPN analyst Cris Carter, talking about domestic violence from a personal standpoint during primetime games last year.
But it’s still not enough.
The NFL and the other major professional sports in America are capable of being major engines for awareness on multiple platforms, whether it be for breast cancer, the supporting of those fighting for this country, and other non-socially related causes or activities that are in need of publicity.
It can be also be a bigger engine for the awareness and decreasing of domestic violence in this country.
Banning players who are found to be involved in domestic violence cases won’t provide a huge decrease on the surface. The amount of domestic violence cases that have, are and will occur among NFL players are just a fraction of the amount of cases that happen nationwide.
However, it’s the cases involving NFL players that seem to get the most attention, especially in the last year. And if commissioner Roger Goodell and the rest of NFL can come to its senses and do more to create awareness for this much-too-prevalent problem, it can be beneficial to future potential victims of domestic abuse.
Banning players for these types of crimes would not only decrease the amount of domestic violence within the NFL, but could possibly have an impact on how people who are following high-profile domestic violence cases view the matter.
It may not create a humongous change when looking at the big picture, but it may help just one victim–which is enough to justify drastic measures taken toward domestic violence.
Again, the idea of banning players for this behavior is all sorts of extreme, especially when it involves some of the game’s best players.
But extreme problems call for extreme consequences.
And in the words of Bears guard Kyle Long:
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