Chicago Bears owner George McCaskey addressed the team's controversial signing of defensive end Ray McDonald on Wednesday, saying the Bears did due diligence on McDonald's legal troubles before reaching a deal with him.
In December, the San Francisco 49ers released McDonald as he was being investigated for sexual assault, citing a "pattern" of behavior. The month prior, McDonald was cleared of wrongdoing in an investigation into an alleged domestic violence incident at this house.
Last week, McDonald announced through his lawyer intentions to sue the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
[daily_cut.nfl]Speaking on Wednesday from the NFL owners' meetings in Phoenix, McCaskey said McDonald was one of only three signings he has interfered with.
"We have a 96-year tradition of doing things a certain way, of bringing a certain type of player into our team," McCaskey said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "And those were my concerns going into the conversation with Ray. But I think you look at every situation individually. You try to find out as much information as you can that’s reliable to make the best decision you can about whether to offer a player the privilege of becoming a Chicago Bear."
McDonald flew to Chicago to meet with McCaskey before his signing. In the meeting, McCaskey said McDonald talked about his legal troubles and "walked him through" each one.
"I was impressed with how sincere he was and how motivated he is," McCaskey said. "He understands, I think, that he could have well been facing the end of his football career. And he loves football. And he wants that career to continue. So I was impressed with his motivation."
McCaskey said he also reached out to McDonald's mother before deciding to offer him a contract.
McDonald was a third-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2007 out of Florida. Over 115 games (68 starts), McDonald has recorded 210 tackles, 19.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. His most-productive season came in 2011, when he posted career-highs with 39 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 15 games.
McDonald's defensive coordinator in San Francisco for the past four seasons was Vic Fangio, whom the Bears hired in January.
- Mike Fiammetta