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Not Exactly Rays of Hope

Jesse Dumas
Sep 8, 2014 at 9:54 PM

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Obviously there was a lot written and said about whether or not Ray McDonald should play against the Cowboys in the days leading up to road-opener. The 49ers front office, the only voice that really mattered in that argument, ultimately decided that he should. As we all know, the decision didn't not work out for them, but especially in light of what's played out in Baltimore, the team has left itself open to a huge media firestorm if it should happen that their own Ray-situation turns out to be more explosive than they're hoping. The question now is, with the benefit of knowing what a disaster the Cowboys were, was it really worth the risk?

Nobody has to convince me how precious every NFL contest is, double that when you play in the same division as the league champion. Had Ray McDonald sat that game out and Demarco Murray ran roughshod through a depleted front 7 on the way to a surprising home-opening victory in Dallas, the decision and the loss would haunt them for the next 4 months as it would have undoubtedly played a factor in the playoff chase. That feeling of regret would intensify even more if it turned out that McDonald really didn't prove to be culpable for the "visible injuries" his fianc� exhibited the night of his memorable 30th birthday.

But now with the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge that Dallas couldn't stop anything the 49ers wanted to do in the passing game, I think it can be argued that Ray Charles could have taken 60 snaps at Left End and they still would have won by two scores, alive or dead. So now that we all know the Cowboys were to be taken lightly, and we know that things are, uhh, a little "touchy" when it comes to the media, the NFL, and domestic violence, can anybody really argue that letting Ray play was really the right call?

The possible outcomes were simple had they sat him down. They lose and jeapordize what may be the last year of having the whole band together for a Super Bowl run and get questioned by the fans for the wisdom of what they did, a tough position to be in.

They win the game and look like a deep, competent team, that can focus on the goal and do the prudent, responsible thing in light of a very serious situation. They can sit on a moral perch above the fray of all the blame-shifting and finger-pointing that are sure to ensue behind this Ray Rice situation.

These are the possible outcomes now:

Ray's innocent and potentially still faces a penalty or even suspension from the NFL offices for simply getting arrested. Sound crazy? Ask Ben Roethlisberger how crazy it was. He's the marquee quarterback accused of sexually assaulting a woman yet never faced any charges and got a 6 game suspension for "conduct detrimental to the league" (later reduced to 4 for good behavior). The best case scenario is a zero-sum game, Ray's innocent and nothing happens, but I don't get the feeling that's likely to happen after Goodell has some making up to do for the 2 games he gave Rice.

The other outcome? Ray's Guilty and the media, who many of were calling for the team to sit McDonald, are all-too ready to shred the team and the leadership for putting a game ahead of the life of a woman. Whether the team's hearts and minds were in the right place doesn't matter, they'll never get the chance in the court of public opinion to explain their case. The team will be forced to cut McDonald, as the precedent has been set now, and they're out their player anyway. Furthermore, they look like bad guys. Not just to the rest of the football world, but to the ENTIRE world as the topic of how the NFL handles charges of domestic violence grows beyond the boundaries of the sports pages.

It would have been ideal if someone in this vaunted coaching staff could have seen how truly awful Dallas was going to be and realized that playing Ray McDonald was not to be viewed as taking a risk on the field, but avoiding a HUGE risk off of it.

The arrest record of the team is a bit overblown in the media, but that doesn't change the fact that the regime is taking heat for it at an increasing rate. I believe that from top-to-bottom the team is indeed built with mostly high-character guys, executives included. They just haven't proven to be very good at public relations and this situation has a chance to really put that fact front and center on a national scale. As a fan, I'm crossing my fingers that Ray is as good a guy as he seems and the team's decision was based on players coming forth and giving real insight into what happened there. Not just so that he can keep playing, but so this whole season doesn't get blown up by a giant media distraction.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Jeff b
    I think the everybody needs to just let this whole thing play out then make a move on this matter, if we are going to talk about anyone's bad choices making the nfl look bad it's not the niners it's the people making the rules they suspend smith for 9 games for alcohol and gorden for a year for pot but ray rice gets 2 games even if they didn't see the punch they seen him drag her unconscious body around in the hall what did they think happend goodell needs to go
    Sep 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM
  • Shane
    J calls everyone morons then basically says the same thing as everyone else. I guess if you get your little dictionary out, use a law book, and fancy phrases you can say the same thing as "morons" but you're smart. Congrats on getting your masters in English.... This is so sad. As soon as something becomes a hot topic in the media ppl lose their minds. start taking stances they wld never otherwise take. The reality is if that video never gets released, Rice misses 2 games, fixes his marriage and we all move on. Then we see the video and everything changes. That in itself is ridiculous. Next, we are acting like this is the worst thing that's ever happened in the NFL. Lenard Little KILLED a woman during a DUI, then 6 years later got another DUI then played 5 more seasons! also Mike Vick can play? why? cuz there was no video? wow. Now b/c of this video we want to strip McD of his job over nothing more than an accusation. Your ex: of crashing ur car is ridiculous. There is zero evidence. Then u condemn him for having ppl at his home for his b-day. great. Maybe this woman is just nuts, is that impossible? Something tells me if this was you being falsely accused, u wld feel differently.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 11:59 AM
  • Jason
    All of you sound like morons. Yes, Ray McDonald can be suspend under a moral turpitude clause in his contract or under the league/players association contract that the players vote on. Most companies do have this. But, Ray does have legal rights against such an action being taken against him especially if he is found innocent. He can and will be advised by his lawyers to file law suits against the league and the 49ers. If found innocent of DV he will win and even if he is found guilty he could still win. A negatifve action taken against a person before there are even found guilty and then is proven innocent will look very bad. If he is found innocent and action is taken against him in the mean time everyone calling for Ray McDonald to be released, suspended, or even sit out games will be yelling, "why did the 49ers do this to this innocent man." Brian Banks had a Multi-Million Dollar career striped from him before he could even begin. He was innocent. If Ray is proven guilty......Burn him at the stake!!!!!
    Sep 9, 2014 at 9:23 AM
    Response: Good, realistic, educational comment. My counter is that the negative impact of people questioning a sit down should he be found innocent vastly outweighs the negative impact should he turn up guilty.
  • Matt
    "So if I drove under the influence of alcohol, crashed my vehicle, couldn't post Vail until trial, and missed several weeks of work my employer is morally obligated to keep me employed? I think you can definitely punish an employee for bringing negative press to your company. This is a lame example since it is nothing like the situation we are discussing. An employer is morally obligated to keep an employee until there is proof that the employee did something worthy of firing. The fact that some employers do fire employees without the proof doesn't make it right. "Guilty or innocent he's culpable for putting the team in this situation." This is extreme arrogance on your part. You can't possibly have enough information to make this judgment accurately.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 9:23 AM
    Response: His house. His party. His fiancé. You're right I'm being arrogant(I guess??). It's likely someone else's fault all this is happening. Ok now I'm being arrogant.
  • Jeral
    Let's not play him because the media said so? How about, let's treat him how the judicial system will treat him. Last I remember, people in this country are innocent until proven guilty. And even if found guilty and sentenced to jail time and probation, the one thing that courts are going to want him to do is to continue to work. I'm sure it will be part of the stipulations of his probation. So, let him work.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 7:36 AM
    Response: Yes I'm sure if found guilty the court will overrule Goodell and have him keep playing. He doesn't work at Midas Auto Parts, he's a professional football player who's work is on national TV on a weekly basis. He's also compensated an insane amount of money to do so. This line of work is a privilege, not a right and no where in all of this did I say he shouldn't be paid.
  • Frankie
    Why has no one talked about Greg Hardy's case?? He has been found guilty of DV along with telling his GF that he was going to kill her and is now appealing the case, but he played on Sunday.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 6:29 AM
    Response: This is a great question. I'm guessing the Panthers boards are all over it though.
  • Garry
    Exactly how did it not "work out for them" He is innocent until proven guilty last I heard in the USA. If he is proven guilty then by all means waive him. Otherwise all this is just talk plain and simple.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 6:22 AM
    Response: I double negative'd that one buddy. It worked out for them just fine on the field but his services weren't instrumental to the win.
  • Matt
    "can anybody really argue that letting Ray play was really the right call?" Uh, yes. You don't punish somebody for simply being accused of a crime and you don't punish somebody on the whim of public opinion no matter how ginned up the mob is. It is simply NOT RIGHT! All of these media people pretending they are on the moral high ground here are actually asking the 49ers to do something immoral!
    Sep 9, 2014 at 6:14 AM
    Response: So if I drove under the influence of alcohol, crashed my vehicle, couldn't post Vail until trial, and missed several weeks of work my employer is morally obligated to keep me employed? I think you can definitely punish an employee for bringing negative press to your company. Guilty or innocent he's culpable for putting the team in this situation.
  • Noe1768
    Nobody hates a woman beater more than me.. But you know what I can't stand even more? The court of public opinion. Zero facts, only assumptions, and always ready to convict a potentially innocent man without the benefit of a complete and impartial investigation, followed by a District Attorney review of the facts and statements. Once a bored media on a slow news day starts feeding the frenzy, prosecutors feel compelled to charge a crime just so they can place the blame squarely on the jury if the defendant is found innocent as was previously concluded before the lynch mob gathered. I have a suggestion.. Why not let the investigation bring this matter to it's most logical conclusion. Or maybe some people are not worthy of Constitutional Rights.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 12:05 AM
    Response: So you hate people judging an accused "woman beater" more than the beater himself.
  • Monsterniner
    Innocent until proven guilty. McDonald on the field was the right choice for him and for his teammates. Why would the Niners discipline him? Goodel has shown that disciplining your own players is meaningless for him with the Aldon Smith suspension. If McDonald is found guilty, then cut him.
    Sep 8, 2014 at 10:40 PM

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