Rozner: Bears show true colors with McDonald signing

  • With the signing of defensive tackle Ray McDonald, the Bears put themselves right back in the middle of the NFL's ongoing domestic-violence issue.

    With the signing of defensive tackle Ray McDonald, the Bears put themselves right back in the middle of the NFL's ongoing domestic-violence issue.

Updated 3/29/2015 7:12 AM

If it goes without saying, then why must it so often be said?

No one who should have any illusions about the NFL as it applies to domestic violence.


That was clear before the Ray Rice video went viral, it was clear after Roger Goodell was "shocked" by what he discovered on TV, and it was clear before the Bears offered evidence of their true intentions and signed Ray McDonald.

That's certainly their right. They own the team. They run the team. They know there are zero consequences. This is the NFL, and the Bears are untouchable.

Just spare us the pretense that a decision is made for reasons other than winning games or making money.

Virginia McCaskey, George McCaskey, Ted Phillips and Ryan Pace ought not make statements to the contrary, because they end up looking ridiculous, as they do now after signing McDonald.

Don't waste your breath and our time with statements about character, or concerns with domestic-violence issues.

There's no rule that says you have to care about anything or anyone. Make money and win games. Fine. Understood.

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Hardly separates the Bears from most NFL teams, but they have spent considerable time talking about it the last few months, ever since they fired the old regime and brought in a new one.

Character was crucial, we were told ad nauseam, but it turns out Pace didn't mean any of it. More empty promises, which is expected of the McCaskeys and Phillips. Now we know to expect the same from Pace.

At a time when the NFL has shown a shocking lack of sincerity and an even more stunning level of incompetence when investigating domestic violence, the Bears have hired a player in McDonald who has been arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and is currently being investigated for sexual assault.

He was so toxic that the 49ers released him upon hearing the news of another investigation, but George McCaskey approved the signing after originally nixing the idea, entirely because he spoke with McDonald in person.


"He talked about growing up and his parents and his playing career," McCaskey told reporters at the NFL owners meetings. "And then he talked about these incidents which have become public knowledge, and he walked me through each one.

"And I was impressed with how sincere he was and how motivated he is."

Wow. Seriously?

So McDonald and someone in the Bears' front office or on the coaching staff -- McCaskey said it might have been Pace or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio -- conspired to have McDonald fly in and meet with McCaskey, and everything changed for Bears ownership.

"I have consistently seen in my practice that guys who are abusive to women are often very charming, manipulative and deceptive," says University of Maryland law professor Leigh Goodmark. "Very few will admit what they've done and most will spend their time convincing others that it's the victim's fault."

Goodmark teaches at the University of Maryland, directs the Gender Violence Clinic and is the 2013 author of "A Troubled Marriage: Domestic Violence and the Legal System."

"I read what George McCaskey said about changing his mind because he spoke to McDonald, right before I went into a domestic-violence hearing (Thursday)," Goodmark said. "And in that hearing I heard the same things about how the abuser did nothing wrong, about how the victim lied, and this guy has been convicted multiple times of abusing the same woman.

"Yet, he still gets up there and tries to convince the judge he didn't do anything. That conversation happens every day in courtrooms across the country."

When asked if he felt a deeper accountability to his mother in this regard, McCaskey said, "I don't think so, because to me there's an element of reverse sexism there."

Reverse sexism?

"George McCaskey has clearly learned nothing from history or what's occurred in the NFL as it concerns domestic violence," Goodmark said. "As long as there have been laws, people have been blaming domestic-violence victims. He has learned nothing."

While sounding less than optimistic about the NFL handling an issue she has dedicated her life to -- advocating for domestic-violence victims -- Goodmark did say the Bears have a chance to do the right thing.

"This guy was damaged enough that San Francisco didn't want him around anymore. That tells you a lot about what he's done," Goodmark says. "But the Bears have done this. So what do they do now?

"Do they take him and do something to show they're serious about making sure he doesn't abuse women? Do they bury it and say he's fine? Do guys in the locker room commit to making sure he doesn't treat women badly? Do they let him continue a pattern of behavior?

"Are Bears players, coaches, management committed to making sure he doesn't treat women badly? Do they pay lip service to it?

"So far the only message from the Bears is they don't care what he's done. We'll see if they are genuine about this issue. It's an opportunity for them if they want to commit to this."

The Bears already paid lip service to the character issue and have displayed their true colors. That puts them in good company around the NFL.

"Of the many things the NFL has failed to do is peer-to-peer mentoring," Goodmark said. "There's an opportunity here for the Bears if they take it.

"They don't have to change. Who's going to make them change? They'll be selling McDonald jerseys in Chicago like they were selling (Ray) Rice jerseys in Baltimore.

"Until you hit them where it hurts financially, the Bears won't change and the league won't change."

And no one should have any illusions otherwise.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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