Before the Bears signed former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, George McCaskey vetoed the move. After McDonald traveled to Chicago to meet one-on-one with the Bears chairman – and after defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, among others, had vouched for McDonald’s character, McCaskey withdrew his objection and agreed with the addition proposed by general manager Ryan Pace.
In the wake of the firestorm started by McDonald’s arrest early Monday morning in another domestic-abuse situation, and leading to the Bears’ release of McDonald later that day, McCaskey stated that there had been no loss of faith in Pace’s judgment.
“We have complete confidence in Ryan,” McCaskey said on Wednesday.
McCaskey instead put the responsibility for the McDonald signing on his own desk. He in fact did sign off on the move. When it fell apart, McCaskey cited the fact that the Bears did have a process and it cleared out the problem.
“The process that we’ve set up has been reinforced and in the end worked,” McCaskey said. “We had safeguards in place. Ryan came to me for permission. So we have the reinforcement of that process. I just need to make a better decision.”
McCaskey and the Bears did not contact McDonald’s alleged victims, something for which the organization took some criticism. The possibility had occurred to the Bears but McCaskey did not want to create any appearance that somehow an NFL team might be involved in influencing the situation with the victims.
“I thought a lot about that, too, not just before signing him but since,” McCaskey said. “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.
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“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 his first emotion upon learning of the incident last weekend was sadness, for the child involved and also for the woman. And there was some regret, and more specifically, thoughts on what else could or should have been done to avert the situation.
“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.”