The state of former Chicago Bears defensive end Ray McDonald‘s career and life had taken another punch Thursday.
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The district attorney in the Santa Clara county announced that McDonald has been charged domestic violence and false imprisonment. He was also charged for child endangerment and the violation of a restraining order.
The charges stemmed from allegations that McDonald attacked his ex-fiancée while she was carrying their two-month-old baby. On May 25, he assaulted the woman in her bedroom around 4 a.m., local time – with McDonald eventually fleeing the area.
McDonald’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, facing up to three years of prison time if he is convicted on those charges.
Now, where do we go from here.
If McDonald ends up getting off scotch-free, then there shouldn’t be anything forcibly stopping him from playing in the NFL again. Though it would seem likely that the majority of teams would be hesitant to give him a chance, despite his status as a fairly reliable player on the field. If uncharged, then the NFL should not take action against him or act as a court of law.
But what if he is convicted? What if he does go to jail for three years? What happens when he becomes a free man?
On one hand, he would have served his time and earned his way back into society, thus allowing him to play in the NFL once again (assuming a team would take a chance on him, which would seem unlikely).
On the other, he has a record of suspect behavior–none leading to guilty charges. However, he did get released by the 49ers less than a year ago following his involvement in a sexual assault investigation, as reported by Chuck Schilken of the Los Angeles Times.
According to McDonald’s rap sheet and criminal record on (courtesy of Heavy.com), he has been arrested five times–twice on allegations of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is the key here.
Domestic violence is a sensitive topic, and hits many homes in the United States very hard. It’s a far more different crime than burglary or drug possession. We’re talking about people hurting and endangering family members and loved ones. So that’s why there’s a kicker here.
Following incidents featuring high-profile running backs Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, it’s obvious that domestic violence has found the awareness of the NFL and those associated with the league. Televisions advertisements produced by the NFL that show players saying “no more” to domestic violence were constantly aired during primetime games following the Rice and Peterson situations.
With that said, what would the league and commissioner Roger Goodell look like if they let a man who was incarcerated (with the assumption that he is found guilty) for beating his ex-fiancée while holding a baby who, at the time, wasn’t even a quarter-of-a-year old back into the league?
They would look like absolute hypocrites.
It would go against everything that the league has been creating awareness about over the past year. It would show that Goodell and the rest of the NFL care only for the value that the players bring on the field while paying little attention to their actions outside of the sport.
Sure, he would have done his time in jail, but do you think that a normal U.S. citizen would be able to easily find a decent job following a three-year jail sentence for domestic violence, along with other patters of suspicious behavior and multiple arrests? Let alone one in the NFL that has the veteran minimum set at around $750,000 (via Spotrac.com).
Professional athletes do not deserve special treatment. They are human beings and denizens of the United States. Just like me, my parents and the guy that swipes my membership card at the gym.
Assuming the NFL does not lie to itself and the fans, in the case that McDonald is, in fact, imprisoned, then he could be in some deep doodoo.
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