With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy clumsily placed on an exempt list that wasn’t really intended to provide teams with a way to, as a practical matter, suspend players with pay, the 49ers continue to refuse to take action of any kind with defensive end Ray McDonald.
They’ve been hiding behind the shield of “due process,” a concept that matters only when the question is whether a player will go to jail. While the truth may be that they have investigated the situation and believe that McDonald did nothing wrong, the broader truth in this context is that teams have a clear bias to believe the things said by players who are regarded as important to the broader cause of winning football games.
Meanwhile, the NFL apparently has not launched an investigation of its own regarding the McDonald case. The San Jose police have, but they’re saying nothing about what they’ve learned.
“As a professional law enforcement organization we try not to offer a personal opinion on incidents we are responsible for investigating,” officer Albert Morales told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “To that end, our investigators continue to diligently conduct follow up investigations on this case. At this time we are not at liberty to share any information that is directly related to this investigation.”
Per Maiocco, McDonald met with investigators for two hours on September 4 at the team’s facility. At some point, more will be known about the case. At some point, the 49ers may have to revisit their position.
Until the NFL takes these decisions out of the hands of the teams, inconsistencies and ambiguities will exist. And fans, the media, and sponsors will be confused about precisely what the rules are in this new post-Rice video reality.
The rules very well may be that there are no rules, and that the NFL and its teams are making it up as they go. The longer that perception lasts, the harder it will be for the league to being the process of restoring its credibility.