Imrem: Time will tell if Bears made a poor decision

  • Off-the-field issues or not, defensive end Ray McDonald must have been too good for the Bears to pass up.

    Off-the-field issues or not, defensive end Ray McDonald must have been too good for the Bears to pass up. Associated Press

Updated 3/24/2015 7:50 PM

When the Cowboys signed Greg Hardy recently, one curiosity was whether the Bears would do something that controversial.

Hardy has been embroiled in the radioactive issue of sports: abuse of women.


The NFL is known as a halfway house for troubled talent. Kill, steal, drive drunk, use illegal drugs, do whatever and a roster spot is reserved for you if you're good enough.

The scale slides: The more a player can help a team get to the Super Bowl, the more teams will convince themselves that he's socially redeemable.

Still, sexual assault and domestic violence are supposed to trump other incivility since the video of Ray Rice attacking his wife in a casino elevator went public last year.

Recent NFL transactions make you wonder whether anyone in the league has seen any of the televised public service announcements condemning such behavior.

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Tuesday, the Bears signed problematic defensive end Ray McDonald, whom the 49ers released for what club officials cited as "a pattern of poor decision-making."

McDonald hasn't been charged with anything, much less convicted, but he's suspected of sexual assault and domestic battery.

Signing a player with this background doesn't exactly fit the image the McCaskeys profess to prefer for the family and the franchise.

Did the McCaskeys really need the scrutiny from the media? Did they need the criticism from women's groups? Did they need to put fans, sponsors and themselves in the position of supporting a team with a Ray McDonald?

Apparently the McCaskeys did. General manager Ryan Pace is quoted as saying he communicated with them through the process and they left the decision to him.


So, why would the Bears take on such a dubious character?

One possible explanation could be that the Bears thoroughly investigated the McDonald matters and concluded that he is innocent of any and all wrongdoing.

Hard to believe that's true considering the repeated incidents, but perhaps the Bears know something we don't.

Another possible explanation for signing Ray McDonald could be that the Bears believe, as I do, in second chances.

Everybody who has erred, regardless of how egregiously, deserves another opportunity to straighten out his life and rejoin proper society.

To be candidly hypocritical, I don't want Ray McDonald living next door to me. If any other town wants him, fine, but bringing him to Chicago is creepy.

The Bears must think McDonald is worth the gamble on and off the field, though it's difficult to imagine he's the last championship piece for a team missing myriad pieces.

Extra chances should be accompanied by extraordinary conditions: The athlete must be evaluated by a psychologist; if rehab is prescribed he must go; he must be cleared by experts before being allowed onto the field.

If McDonald has a treatable problem like Brandon Marshall did -- or if he'll be found to neither have a problem nor be guilty of anything -- then the Bears will win this bet.

But it seems unlikely that the Bears had the time to thoroughly investigate McDonald and be certain that this is a good player capable of being a good person.

More likely, the Bears saw a defensive end who fit their scheme and talked themselves into it being all right to take a flyer on him.

Maybe the question now is whether the Bears weren't interested in Greg Hardy or the Cowboys simply beat them to him.

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