Ryan Pace Taking Big Risk on Ray McDonald


Oct 5, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald (91) during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Levi

We’re starting to learn about new Chicago Bears GM and how he’s going to operate.  He’s proven to be calculated but aggressive.  That made itself abundantly clear when we made his first controversial move as Chicago Bears general manager, signing former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald.

McDonald was released by the San Francisco 49ers after several run-ins with the law.  These are not just the run-of-the-mill DUI or bar fight types of run-ins, these are domestic violence and sexual assault allegations.  Here’s a rundown of his off the field troubles:

"June 13, 2010: McDonald is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The 25-year-old was pulled over on Interstate 280 after being clocked driving upwards of 94 miles per hour.July 22, 2010: McDonald pleads not guilty to driving under the influence. He was later sentenced to complete a first-offender program.Feb. 8, 2012: McDonald is arrested for an outstanding warrantafter failing to provide proof that he completed the first-offender program.May 25, 2014: San Jose police were called to McDonald’s home to respond to an alleged incident of a woman grabbing a man’s gun. Police did not identify either person by name, according to ESPN, but multiple reports indicated the subjects were McDonald and his fiancée.Aug. 31, 2014: McDonald is arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence in San Jose. Police reported “visible injuries” to the alleged victim, who was believed to be McDonald’s fiancée. The incident took place at a party for McDonald’s 30th birthday. Other 49ers players were in attendance. Charges were never filed because of insufficient evidence.Dec. 17, 2014: San Jose police begin investigating McDonald in a sexual assault probe. A search warrant was served at his residence the day police got a call from a local hospital to report a possible sexual assault. He has not been charged, but the 49ers cut him."

Whether or not charges were filed, I’m of the belief that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  This is a bad dude and I think Ryan Pace knows that.  Why else would he approach Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey requesting permission to sign him and his extensive baggage?

George McCaskey talked to reporters about the decision to bring in McDonald:

"Ryan had asked me for permission to pursue him. And we had a file on him with the information that we had gathered (on the legal issues) and I looked at the file and came back and said no. So Ryan said, ‘Fine. We’ll move on to the next guy.’ And then Ray – I don’t know if he contacted Vic (Fangio) or Ryan directly or I don’t know how it came about – but he asked if I’d be willing to meet with him and I said yes."

After meeting with McDonald, and putting in calls to his college coaches and to his parents no less, McCaskey agreed to let Pace pursue McDonald.

"He said, ‘If you want, you can talk to my college coach, Urban Meyer, and my position coach from college.’ And after talking to him I said, ‘I think I’d like to talk to your parents.’ And you need to be careful putting too much stock (in that). What would you expect a parent to say about their adult child? But the thing that impressed me after talking to them was the support system. They go to almost all of his games, even the out of town games. They’re there for him. He came from a strong two-parent upbringing, which sad to say isn’t all that common anymore these days. And even discounting what a parent had to say, I came away impressed with the support system that he has."

When the smoke clears, this will still be on Ryan Pace.  Sure, he went to the chairman, who even talked to his mother Bears matriarch Virginia McCaskey about the issue.  Pace is going out on a limb with this signing.  As a young GM, it’s a big risk.  It could prove to be a big reward, because there’s no question that McDonald can play.  But is this just about his production?

Pace talked about having high character guys when he was brought on board.  Is it worth the risk to his reputation and the Bears’ reputation to get a guy with this kind of rap sheet?  Besides, the Bears are in full rebuilding mode.  If they were willing to deal with these kind of distractions, why trade Brandon Marshall?  If McDonald has any more off the field issues, it’s going to reflect poorly on Pace and the Bears.  Is it worth the risk?

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