San Francisco 49ers have had a difficult season in 2014. The offense sputtered throughout much of the season. There have been injuries to key players on defense and there has been talk of coach Jim Harbaugh, the 18th head coach in the history of the 49ers, moving on to the Michigan Wolverines in a deal worth $48 million. The latest calamity to hit the San Francisco 49ers camp is the recent release of defensive lineman Ray McDonald after reports that a search warrant turned up this week.
First level authorities around the Bay Area were made aware of a victim who potentially was sexually assaulted by McDonald. Detectives from surrounding departments and their Special Victims Unit (SVU) were said to have obtained a search warrant for McDonald’s home. The victim is alleged to have been seeking treatment for an assault from a neighboring hospital. According to police, “[At this time], the alleged victim’s claim that she was possibly assaulted…,” sought reporters who are following the story to seek clarity by asking follow-up questions that went unanswered by authorities.
There have been no charges filed or any arrests made. Labrina McDonald, mother of the ex-San Francisco 49er, believes the allegation against her son is “laughable and [lacking in truth].”
McDonald was released from the San Francisco 49ers one day after the start of the impending police-investigation. Trent Baalke, General Manager of the team, was said to have terminated McDonald just before noon PST on Wednesday, Dec. 17.
This was not McDonald’s first run in with legal trouble as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. In 2010, McDonald, 30, was charged with a DUI and in August of this year, he was arrested for his involvement in a domestic violence incident against his girlfriend. McDonald was not formerly charged after prosecutors decided against it.
After the August 2014 incident, the San Francisco 49ers made the difficult decision to keep McDonald around for the entire season despite escalating problems surrounding the team’s decision. Rather than place McDonald on the NFL commissioner’s exemption list where Carolina Panther Greg Hardy and Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson have ended up, or cut the eight year pro from the roster altogether, the San Francisco 49ers elected to keep the 6’3″ 290 pound defender on the field.
If the NFL’s most recently drafted conduct policy had been in place during the summer, there is a big chance that McDonald would not have played for the San Francisco 49ers or any other NFL team during the 2014 season. The latest personal conduct policy, with its stringent sensitivity to domestic violence, was not firmly established during the summer.
After the search warrant and rape allegations, everything changed practically overnight for McDonald. According to Baalke, athlete-patterns of making poor decisions leave no choice for our organization other than to release McDonald for good.
According to Greg Aiello, NFL spokesperson, the league is also going to conduct its own investigation into the allegations facing McDonald. Whether McDonald is cleared or not, his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers is over.
McDonald has now been connected with at least two domestic abuse incidents since joining the team as a third round draft pick in 2007. Baalke claims it was a team decision to cut McDonald. Coach Harbaugh and Jed York, team CEO were both firmly involved in the decision. “We expect a lot from our players, hold them accountable for their actions.”
The NFL’s heightened sense of awareness toward domestic violence is thought by experts to be the key reason that McDonald was released. The San Francisco 49ers is a team having a difficult season on offense, defense and now with the law investigating players. The near-zero tolerance policy on domestic violence means players who choose to violate it risk severe consequences. After 14 games, McDonald had 39 tackles, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble. His salary was $3.5 million.
By D’wayne Stanelli
Photo courtesy of Davide Gabino – Flickr