Ray McDonald wants to move forward as he joins the Bears
LAKE FOREST – His fight to get back in the NFL began over a month earlier at Halas Hall in a face-to-face meeting with George McCaskey.
He spent that day trying to convince the Bears that he was not the man accused of domestic violence and sexual assault in 2014.
That might have been the first step but it certainly won’t be the last in Ray McDonald’s quest to restore his image to the NFL.
On Tuesday he took another step by addressing the media after a voluntary minicamp workout at Halas Hall.
“I had two incidents where I feel I didn’t do anything wrong but still it’s in the spotlight, it was in the national spotlight for quite sometime,” said McDonald. “I’m just trying to move forward from it. I’m a Bear now and I’m just here try and help this team win football games.”
In August of last year McDonald was arrested in San Jose on suspicion of domestic violence and then in December was named a suspect in a sexual assault investigation. Those led to McDonald’s “termination” by the 49ers towards the end of the 2014 season.
On Tuesday McDonald said he believes he’ll not face charges in the latter of the two incidents and doesn’t want people to believe what they hear.
“I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s fair,” said McDonald when asked whether it was fair for people to have character questions about him or question if he should play at all. “You can look on TV see all this negative stuff they are saying about somebody. People can put stuff out there that’s not very credible and it can assassinate someone’s character by doing that.
“But when you actually get a chance to meet someone and hear their side of the story then you get to see it for what it really is.”
Still McDonald expects to be under a microscope as he enters a one-year deal with the Bears. He admits to keeping a tighter circle of friends after last year and is more cautious of people around him in hopes that he can try to have a clean slate in Chicago.
“It’s a fresh start. I learned a lot in my previous situations,” said McDonald. “To keep my circle tight. You can’t trust everybody because everybody doesn’t have your best interest at heart. I’m just here now to play ball and try to help this team win ball games.”
He’ll do so with a familiar face. Vic Fangio was his defensive coordinator in San Francisco and was hired by the Bears for the same position following the ouster of the Jim Harbaugh regime.
McDonald credits Fangio for helping to facilitate this second chance in the NFL.
“With all the stuff that’s going on not only with me but other players around the league, I had some doubts in my mind,” said McDonald when asked if he thought no team would sign him after the allegations. “But, you know, I have faith and I know what kind of person I am and I hoped I would get another shot one day.”
The Bears gave him that opportunity. How many chances others will give him outside the organization is still yet to be seen.