Chicago didn't do its due diligence before signing Ray McDonald and is now paying the price. Plus, Cam Newton's head-scratching quote, perspective on Roger Goodell's job difficulty and why the NFL needs a developmental league
1. I think Bears chairman George McCaskey’s decision not to reach out to the representation of Ray McDonald's accuser before signing the former 49ers defensive lineman looks like a pretty poor decision now. McDonald was arrested on allegations of domestic violence a second time over the weekend, and Chicago promptly released him. Here’s McCaskey to the media two months ago, after the Bears signed the controversial free agent:
Q: George, did you dig into the legal system context with the lawyers who were involved with these incidents? And specifically with the sexual assault case, did you reach into the accuser's side there and try to contact them?
McCaskey: “I didn't. I don't want to interfere with any league investigations that might be ongoing. I did speak with a couple people at the league. They couldn't offer me a lot of information. But I thought that was an important element to cover.
“An alleged victim, I think—much like anybody else who has a bias in this situation—there's a certain amount of discounting in what they have to say.”
When you’re about to take the risk of signing a player accused of committing such a toxic crime, how do you not get the accuser’s side of the story?
2. I think more NFL players should be like Bears guard Kyle Long, now a former teammate of McDonald.
— KL (@Ky1eLong) May 25, 2015
3. I think this Cam Newton quote reads like something Ricky Bobby would say and now I can’t stop reading it in Will Ferrell’s ridiculous southern accent:
“And I say this with the most humility, but I don't think nobody has ever been who I'm trying to be. Nobody has the size, nobody has the speed, nobody has the arm strength, nobody had the intangibles that I've had. I'm not saying that to say I'm a one-on-one type of person that this league will never see another. No, I'm not saying that. Hear me out. I'm just saying that so much of my talents have not been seen in one person.”
4. I think I’m looking forward to one day meeting Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who took a cancer-stricken Florida teen to prom more than a month ago, and became a friend to her before she passed away on Friday. Marks stayed in close contact with Khameyea Jennings and her family until the end.
5. I think the NFL ought to put significant resources behind a developmental league with minor league teams affiliated with each franchise, if for no other reason than to develop these quarterbacks who fall through the cracks. For example, it makes little sense to have Jimmy Clausen, a 2010 second-round pick, spend 2011-14 holding a clipboard after getting just one shot at a starting job in Carolina. According to Pro Football Focus, Clausen performed better in his rookie season than E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr did in their first years, and each of those four got or are getting opportunities in their second season. But the Panthers drafted Cam Newton, and a guy who might have developed into a successful NFL passer just sits around behind entrenched QBs who are getting injured at lower rates thanks to rules changes meant to protect them. It’s high time teams reserve the backup jobs for 30-and-over passers and send the Clausens of the world down to the farm.
6. I think I’m going to stop my yearly tradition of overestimating the Colts in my preseason predictions for one big reason: Chuck Pagano’s team won’t take that next step into conference championship territory until it addresses a leaky offensive line, specifically woeful right tackle Gosder Cherilus. I waited all offseason for GM Ryan Grigson to bring in new blood, and all the Colts did was add seventh-round tackle Denzelle Good.
7. I think Roger Goodell has the toughest job in sports, and if you don’t believe it, here’s former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1963, justifying his decision to suspend stars Paul Hornung and Alex Karras indefinitely for gambling.
“I thought about it at length,” Rozelle said. “This sport has grown so quickly and gained so much of the approval of the American public that the only way it can be hurt is through gambling. I considered this in reaching my decision.”
That was the toughest thing on the NFL commissioner’s plate in 1963. Gambling. Cut to Goodell on Memorial Day 2015, taking a break from concussion symposiums and hate mail from Patriots fans to find out one of his league’s players allegedly struck a woman while she was holding an infant.
8. I think there are bigger fish to fry, but I’d like to hear the commissioner’s explanation for skirting this NFL bylaw that’s been on the books in some form or fashion for 60 years. Bylaw 8.13 (4) says the commissioner must go to the executive committee of owners for approval of any team fine greater than $500,000. The NFL’s justification, calling it two separate $500,000 fines, is a dubious workaround at best.
9. I think this is really smart on the part of NFL officiating boss Dean Blandino’s office. According to FOX Sports' Alex Marvez: Jim Schwartz will be serving as a consultant to the league's officiating department for the 2015 season. Schwartz's main role is to help provide a coach's perspective with some of the decisions made by the officiating office, a source told FOX Sports.
I’m sure NFL staffs are happy to hear their interest will be represented in the league office by someone with five years of experience as a head coach. There is a dearth of former coaches in NFL management positions, and the officiating office is a great place to start filling the void.
10. I think I’m a day late, but I’d like to thank each of the men and women who risk their lives in service of our nation. I had the privilege of attending the wedding of two such individuals this month on Tilghman Island in the great state of Maryland, and I can’t think of two people more qualified for the task of leading Americans into combat theaters. Thank you.
[widget widget_name="SI Newsletter Widget”]