Colts linebacker Josh McNary has been accused of rape. McNary denies it. And McNary’s version of the events could eventually be vindicated.
But that doesn’t matter in the post-Rice NFL, where mere accusations (true or otherwise) can get a guy placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the prosecution.
“After reviewing the documents supporting the very serious criminal charges filed yesterday afternoon against Josh McNary, the Colts have requested Commissioner Goodell to immediately place Josh on the League’s Commissioner Exemption list,” the Colts said in a statement. “If the request is granted, Josh will not be eligible to practice or attend games with the Club while designated as Commissioner Exempt. That designation will permit the investigation provided by the League’s Personal Conduct Policy to run its course and will afford Josh the opportunity to focus on his defense against the charges. The Colts sincerely hope this extraordinarily serious matter will be resolved expeditiously and that justice will prevail.”
McNary becomes the first active player to face paid leave under the new Personal Conduct Policy, which actually was promulgated on December 10, after the alleged incident of December 1. The NFL stubbornly claims that paid leave isn’t discipline; for a player like McNary who’ll now miss the AFC title game and the Super Bowl, it becomes even harder to support with a straight face the idea that a player who gets paid to not play isn’t being punished.
Meanwhile, the six-week delay between the incident and the formal charges raises real questions about whether McNary should have been placed on paid leave earlier. The new Personal Conduct Policy expressly requires that notice be given to the league as soon as the player becomes aware of a potential violation. The police report shows that police questioned McNary and searched his apartment on December 2. If McNary remained silent about the situation, he could be facing separate discipline.
If the Colts knew and didn’t say anything pending the formal issuance of charges, that could create a separate issue.
Finally, it’s admirable that the Colts have asked that McNary be placed on paid leave. But McNary is a special-teamer. A role player. A replaceable part. What would the Colts have done if the charges had been made against a more important player, and if the player had denied the allegations, like McNary has?