City Sports Report

The Ray McDonald Case Taught America An Important Lesson

Ray McDonald played on as he was involved in a domestic violence investigation( picture via blog.sfgate.com)

Domestic violence has long been an issue in sports, even though it has been largely ignored. But this season in the NFL, it hit the main screen. With the Ray Rice case, domestic violence was brought to the forefront when it involves the athletes of the NFL. And just like Ray’s case was brought to light, the NFL’s non-existent policy on how to address domestic violence was shown. The NFL originally punished Rice with a two game suspension. But after the video of him knocking his then-fiancé out surfaced, the league decided to suspend him indefinitely while the Ravens terminated his contract right then and there. Ray has since disputed the ruling and the case and his suspension is now in the court’s hands as to whether it will be upheld or not. But Rice’s case was not the only case out there. Carolina Panther’s defensive lineman Greg Hardy was also involved in a domestic dispute as well. Hardy was found guilty of threatening and assaulting his ex-girlfriend, but he has disputed the ruling and is appealing the charges right now. The Panthers have placed Hardy on the commissioner’s exempt list while his case is being resolved. Hardy is still getting paid, but he is not able to play or be considered for play until the case is resolved. Hardy and Rice’s cases were more clear-cut and had more evidence, but in the case of San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, the situation was not as clear.

After Ray Rice and Greg Hardy had their incidents, the NFL created a domestic violence policy. The policy stated that the first offense in regards to domestic violence earned a six-game suspension. It also stated that upon a second charge for domestic violence, you would be banned from the NFL. As soon as that ruling was laid down, the president was set and many thought that would scare away anyone from ever thinking of committing such a crime. Well, on August 31st, Ray McDonald was arrested at his home in regards to a domestic violence incident. It was reported that his pregnant fiancée had visable marks on her body. McDonald, once he was released, proclaimed that the real truth would come to light. But since that truth was not visible as the bruises on his fiancée, no one believed a word he said. Instead of letting the process play out, McDonald was immediately found guilty in the court of public opinion by a lot of people. Many, including reporters and politicians, called for the 49ers to suspend McDonald or make him inactive during this legal matter. But the Niners trusted in McDonald and strayed from the public outcry. The organization chose to let McDonald continue to play and everyone from the owner to the coach said that McDonald deserved the right of due process. For those that don’t know, the definition of due process is fair treatment through the judicial system. In this instance, McDonald had not been charged with anything by the police and they were still investigating the matter. McDonald has been active in every single game this season while the police have been investigating and gathering evidence. And while McDonald was playing, more and more folks on social media continued to ask for the 49ers to suspend him or make him inactive because they believed he did something to his fiancée, despite none of them knowing what even happened. The assumption was made: McDonald was guilty.

The McDonald case finally came to a head this week when the Santa Clara police finally concluded their case and decided to not charge Ray McDonald with domestic violence due to lack of evidence. Yes, his fiancé had some marks on her from their incident, but it was determined that McDonald did not assault her at all. In fact, she was trying to come at him. And in an effort to restrain his fiancée, marks were left on her. The patience and trust in McDonald from the organization was rewarded in the outcome of the case. But even though the case has been resolved and McDonald is not going to be charged, some are still not satisfied with the conclusion. Some have even said that he got away with something in this one despite the results of the investigation. But maybe, just maybe, they are still not willing to understand that it’s possible that he did not harm this woman. Because he is a man in this situation, I believe some have painted him with the broad stroke of guilty no matter what the result. There was even one fan that said McDonald got away with something but he has a history of domestic violence (McDonald has only been arrested once in regards to a traffic stop in 2012 that revealed an outstanding warrant stemming from his 2010 arrest for suspension of driving under the influence).

The main point is that not all cases or people are the same. The thing that we all have to be careful to do is not group all people in the same categories. When you group people in the same category, you run the risk of pre-judging someone without knowing all the facts. I agree that domestic violence is a serious issue that should be handled with extreme care, but I also think that each and every domestic violence case is an individual case all its own. Just because someone is suspected of something does not mean that guilt is automatically there. There is a certain thing called evidence that many tend to overlook. So instead of jumping to conclusions on things, try and wait until the evidence comes out. And if you want to make a statement during that time, then by all means do so. But to make a statement and not know any of the facts and how they add up is not the best way to go about things at all. And in the end, it can make you look foolish. I had to learn that in my life at some point, and it seems like many others either refuse to learn that lesson or they just refuse to learn from prior jumps to conclusions. I can almost guarantee that if anyone that already concluded Ray McDonald was guilty was in a situation like McDonald was in or a compromising situation where guilt was assumed, they would ask for due process as well. Imagine that feeling that would come over you if you knew you were innocent but many assumed you were guilty. That does not feel too good does it? So imagine how that makes someone else feel. Ray got vilified without anyone knowing all the information.

For more sports talk, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

One Comment

  1. ASR

    November 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Good article, it identifies the political ‘football’ that pro sports must contend with in the information age.

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