One of the conditions laid out by Bears chairman George McCaskey for the team signing Ray McDonald in March was that the veteran defensive lineman alter a pattern of behavior that had appeared to place him in the near occasion of problems off the field. McDonald convinced the Bears that he was about the business of changing things.
A cloud formed over McDonald’s situation this weekend after he was arrested on charges of domestic violence and child endangerment by San Jose police.
According to the police, officers said that McDonald physically assaulted a woman while she was holding a baby.
McDonald signed a one-year contract worth potentially $1.5 million, without guaranteed money, on March 24 during the NFL owners meetings. He was released last December by the San Francisco 49ers in part because of what the 49ers considered a pattern of poor decisions and behavior that had resulted in two incidents involving alleged assaults of women, for which McDonald has yet to be formally charged.
As part of his return to the NFL, McDonald flew to Chicago to meet with McCaskey and state his commitment to change. McCaskey also was in touch with McDonald’s mother before agreeing to the signing.
“It’s a fresh start,” McDonald said during a Bears minicamp in late April. “I learned a lot from my previous situations, to keep my circle tight. You can’t trust everybody because everybody doesn’t have your best interests at heart.”
Whether the latest situation causes the Bears to sever their recent ties with McDonald is expected to depend on the outcome of investigations into the allegations. McCaskey is unlikely to take kindly to risking the Bears image and standing as an organization and then having that leap of faith betrayed, if indeed that is what happened.
What had bothered McCaskey specifically with McDonald was “the pattern, the frequency,” McCaskey said after the signing. “Ray and I talked about this. I told him that my assessment was 'bad decision-making,' allowing himself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or not withdrawing from a situation at the appropriate time.
“And I told him, if he's to remain a Bear, that needs to improve. And he pledged to me that it would.”