After yet another assault claim was announced yesterday, The San Francisco 49ers have done something they should have done a long time ago, cut DE Ray McDonald. Niners General Manager Trent Baalke told ESPN that McDonald’s actions were indicative of “a pattern of poor behavior”. A representative of the San Jose Police department said McDonald’s house had been searched after a woman showed up at a local hospital seeking treatment. No arrests were made and no charges were filed, but the 49ers are likely not taking any chances in this day of renewed vigilance against sexual, physical and child abuse in the NFL.
But before we go giving San Francisco props for doing what’s right, we have to mention that Ray McDonald was given way too many chances in 2014. On May 25 the police were called to his home in response to a 911 call in which police reported a female pointed a firearm at herself. In August, police say McDonald bruised the arms of his fiancé and now we find ourselves right in the middle of another Ray McDonald driven news cycle.
The Niners moved swiftly to separate themselves from McDonald as the current circumstance illustrates a pattern of questionable behavior. Though questionable behavior has been a relative anomaly among the vast majority of law-abiding players, the stigma of the violent football player is one of the most prevailing stereotypes in all of sports. When that negative image is placed alongside the old antebellum idea of the out of control Black buck, the very notion of the big Black male who can’t keep his hands to himself is given new life.
These things need to be nipped in the bud and maybe, just maybe, one day Ray McDonald will learn what it is to keep his hands to himself or, if he’s the unlikely victim of multiple sexual hoaxes, learn to discern when he is in the company of a femme charlatan. The old Chris Rock joke about Black people being more racist than White people because “We hate (n-word) too” prevails in this particular situation. As a Black person, it's painful to see a negative stereotype play itself out in real life. Ray McDonald, Ray Rice, Rae Carruth, Adrian Peterson and Darren Sharper. Each of these current and past NFL players have been accused, indicted or convicted of actions that reflect negatively on a group of men who are in need of all the positive press they can get. It is painful to watch, but there’s no feeling sorry for any of these individuals.
In some cases, their fame has been squandered, their fortunes depleted to defend themselves from these charges. But if the era of steroids has taught us anything, people in the limelight are just people. Flawed, lecherous, lustful, greedy, jealous, slothful people. While their abilities on the field are worthy of accolades, the adulation of athletes based upon a personality that may or may not be manufactured leaves NFL fans blindsided by these types of claims and legal suits.
If only it were easier to separate the football player from the person, and the person from their sins.