Ray McDonald, a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers who is facing a felony domestic violence charge, will travel to Dallas with the team and will play on Sunday against the Cowboys, Coach Jim Harbaugh told CSNBayArea.com.
“The way the facts are and what’s known, he has the liberty to play in the game,” Harbaugh said.
McDonald was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence last Saturday night, just days after the NFL imposed a strict new policy on domestic violence. A violation comes with a six-game suspension; a second comes with a lifetime ban that can later be appealed. Harbaugh added his opinion after the incident, saying he had a zero tolerance when it came to domestic violence.
“If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there’s no understanding,” Harbaugh said in an interview on KNBR Radio earlier this week. “There’s no tolerance for that.” He added that if a player were to be convicted of a domestic violence crime there is “no way” he would play for the team.
The keyword, of course, is “convicted,” which McDonald has not been. Harbaugh had no comment today on the legal status of McDonald’s charges, which are still being investigated.
“As we talked about the other day, in terms of that question, it’s a legal matter and I’ll refer back to that,” Harbaugh said about whether the investigation revealed information that would be favorable to McDonald.
In the meantime, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who imposed the sweeping new domestic violence policy, has said the league is watching McDonald’s case very closely, but has insisted that a full investigation must occur before the NFL would levy a punishment.
McDonald was released from jail last Sunday on a $25,000 bond.