Updated with McDonald out on bail, 49ers’ statement
Last week, the NFL adopted new rules involving domestic violence, and now it appears that the first player to test the rules might be Ray McDonald.
The San Francisco 49ers defensive end was arrested in a domestic violence incident involving his pregnant fiancee, according to Damian Trujillo of NBC Bay Area and other Bay Area outlets. Santa Clara County records show McDonald, 29, who was also arrested for DUI in 2010, was booked at 5:30 a.m. PDT for “inflicting injury on a spouse or cohabitant, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. By late morning, he was freed on $25,000 bail for the felony domestic violence charges.
Ray McDonald mug shot pic.twitter.com/vax00TWbJz
— Damian Trujillo (@newsdamian) August 31, 2014
The alleged incident occurred at a party for McDonald’s birthday, which is Tuesday.
For what it’s worth, I’m told there were other 49ers on hand when police arrived at Ray McDonald’s home but Aldon Smith was not one of them.
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) August 31, 2014
McDonald was arrested when his fiancee showed bruises to police, according to Barrows. Other players present at the party included tight end Vernon Davis and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs. “The 49ers organization is aware of the recent reports regarding Ray McDonald and we take such matters seriously,” the 49ers said in a statement. “As we continue to gather the facts, we will reserve further comment.”
Under the NFL’s new rules, enacted after the furor over Ray Rice’s two-game suspension, a player can be suspended for six games for a first offense and banned (subject to review) for a second offense. And punishment will be more severe if the victim is pregnant. The punishment would not be handed down until criminal adjudication has been completed. McDonald became a full-time starter under Coach Jim Harbaugh, who may be less tolerant than the league.
“He said that we can do anything in the world and we can come and talk to him and he’ll forgive us except put our hands on women,” Donte Whitner, now with Cleveland, said (via Pro Football Talk). “If you put your hand on a woman, then you’re done in his book.”
Perhaps, but there is concern in San Francisco that stars are treated differently. The team leads the NFL in arrests over the last five years, SFgate.com’s Ann Killion writes, and the status of Aldon Smith has yet to be resolved. Killion writes of the cultural shift under Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke:
The 49ers didn’t have any arrests in the first year under Harbaugh-Baalke. But something in the culture appears to have changed. Two players – Aldon Smith and McDonald, who was arrested on a DUI in 2012 – account for six of those ten arrests. That shouldn’t make anyone feel better about the 49ers problems. Repeat offenders are a clear sign that a message is not getting through. The team’s mishandling of the Aldon Smith issue, putting him on the field for practice just a couple of hours after his arrest last September on a DUI charge and then allowing him to play every defensive snap two days later, is an indication that the team might not have priorities in order when it comes to handling serious legal issues.
Something is wrong within the 49ers culture right now. The team wants to be viewed as one of the league’s elite but leading the league in arrests is not, I assume, what it has in mind.
That’s a widespread view in San Francisco. Tim Kawakami of MercuryNews.com writes:
The 49ers’ standard for behavior is… that they have no standard for behavior as long as the player can produce for them in the times when he is not otherwise banished from the league… and what we’re seeing is a bunch of players who have absolutely gotten that unspoken message and continue to do whatever the hell they want.
We’re seeing it. The 49ers are experiencing it. Now the NFL has to deal with it on a regular basis.
And that’s a bad, bad place to be for a franchise that tries to hold itself up as a model organization in all ways.