Published May 03, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - There are slippery slopes and then there are avalanches.
You can never say never in a league based solely on results, but it looks as if Ray McDonald has effectively ended his NFL career due to his abhorrent off- the-field behavior.
That's a just outcome, but it's not enough for some.
USA Today columnist Nancy Armour has advocated the Chicago Bears also should pay for the latest sin of McDonald, all because the organization dared to give the troubled defensive lineman yet another chance to turn his life around.
It's an opportunity McDonald squandered miserably after being arrested on charges of domestic violence and child endangerment early Monday morning in Santa Clara, California, when police were dispatched to his home and learned he "physically assaulted the victim while she was holding a baby."
The Bears, who signed McDonald on March 24 to a one-year, $1.5 million contract that included no guaranteed money, acted quickly and released him.
"We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear," Chicago general manager Ryan Pace said in a statement. "He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him."
To me, you either believe in those second chances or you don't, there is no sliding scale.
That said, let's not make Pace or the Bears out to be altruistic humanitarians here. We all know why Chicago signed McDonald and it had absolutely nothing to do with McDonald's mom. his college coach Urban Meyer or new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio serving as character witnesses.
The Bears believed McDonald could help them win football games, and if they didn't come to that conclusion, the Pope and the President could have showed up at Halas Hall to put in a good word and it wouldn't have mattered.
Pace certainly bet on the wrong horse and failed to yield to the warning signs McDonald's old team, the San Francisco 49ers, called a "pattern of poor decision-making."
Before the Memorial Day incident, McDonald was arrested last August on domestic violence charges following an altercation with his fiancee at a party in him home. At that point the Niners publicly stood by McDonald, allowing him to continue to play while the investigation was ongoing, something that proved to be prudent because the case was later dropped in November due to a lack of evidence.
McDonald, though, spit in the eye of his good fortune in December after being named as a suspect in a prior investigation for sexual assault, something that forced San Francisco to move on.
That resume spurred Armour to write that McDonald shouldn't be the only one paying for his latest domestic abuse incident. She believes: "NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ought to slap the Chicago Bears with a hefty fine and dock them a draft pick or two. Suspend general manager Ryan Pace for four games. Ban owner George McCaskey from the stadium for the first half of the season while he's at it, too, since it was McCaskey's enlightened decision to blow off the alleged victim when he gave the OK to sign McDonald."
And that kind of visceral response is likely to be plauded because few are going to defend a pariah like McDonald, who seems to a serial abuser.
But once you step away from a raw, instinctual reaction and apply intellect to this issue, Armour's assertions are without merit, the advocation of punishment for a group, as flawed as its motives may be, attempting to let a troubled individual earn a living.
Try attempting that same spin in any inner city in America against a poverty- stricken minority with a rap sheet five times as long as McDonald's and my best guess is you are going to be labeled with a certain "R" word by the same progressives pushing the hard-line against the well-to-do NFL player.
There's winning and then there is winning the right way.
The latter would be great and it's something most NFL teams strive for but let's not play Pollyanna and understand triumph in any fashion -- right, wrong or indifferent -- is far more palatable than the alternative.
Just ask Armour. She wants the Bears and every other NFL team to adjust their own moral compasses in their quest for victory, while applying an ends- justify-the-means, scorched-earth policy to aid her own cause.
Score another one for hypocrisy.
And what's the end game here?
Who gets to judge the second chances and hand out these draconian punishments?
Outrage and compassion for McDonald's victims here, no matter how well- intentioned, is generating flawed and spurious logic that, if implemented, would make a significant problem even worse.
Heck, compared to the Armour's slippery slope, the oft-criticized Goodell is a fair judge, an unbiased jury and a compassionate executioner.