Ray McDonald’s Ethics and Good Riddance!

Ray McDonaldFor the past 20 years I have devoted my life to speaking, consulting and helping others make good ethical choices. I speak publicly and I consult privately on ethics. I believe I have made a difference in the lives of people. I love sports and I know the business world, and at the professional level, they are not all that far apart.

Once, a very long time ago, I made some bad choices and I paid for them. It is public knowledge. When the full weight of my actions came crashing down on me, I lost everything and had to rebuild my life. By everything, I mean just that. When I began my climb back, the one thing I did not do was to laugh off what I had done. I was humbled and determined to change my life.

Shuckin’ and jivin’

I am an “old guy,” and I hate using slang, even when it is out of date! It doesn’t fit me. I dislike people who try to ingratiate themselves to others by using slang. I talk straight and I talk directly from my heart. When I counsel people in sports or business, I do not talk like a “know it all,” but a man who understands the pain of poor ethical choices.

I have known many men and women (including athletes) who say the right thing and go through all of the motions of telling a good story but they are lying through their teeth. I can see right through them. Their act bores me.

In sports, especially at the professional or D-1 level, a lot is on the line. Someone who says all of the right things and then turns right around and then screws up their chance is a complete jerk. I can smell their act from 40 yards away.

By the way, I am not the one saying “Good Riddance” to Ray McDonald; his teammates have done it for me. They don’t want to hear his act anymore. They want him gone. The good people of Chicago can do better; my gosh, the Bears are a tough, hard-nosed team but the city wants to be proud of their guys off the field, as well as on the field. That’s the way it should be.

In case you don’t know or haven’t heard, Ray McDonald, DT for the Chicago Bears, was just arrested in California for domestic violence. This tough guy allegedly assaulted a woman while she was holding a baby. What?

Quoting Bears’ General Manager Ryan Pace:

”We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear. He was not able to meet the standard, and the decision was made to release him.”

I believe in second chances too, but it was only last August that McDonald assaulted another woman on top of many other incredibly bone-headed moves. It led the 49ers to release him at that time.

Chicago signed McDonald to a one-year contract after McDonald’s agent did an incredible sell job. I have an old Dodge with a flat tire I would like him to sell for me. Chicago Bears Chairman McCaskey personally interviewed McDonald. He was very impressed with how candid and honest McDonald sounded.

I am not the type of man to say, “I told you so, Mr. McCaskey.” I am the kind of man to say something like, “Let me work with this man for a while sir, because I can smell something from 40 yards away. Yet, I think I can help him.”

No joy in any of this

Ray McDonald is a tragedy. I am not happy this happened to him. I want to make that clear. I am even less happy for the woman and her child, for former victims of his violence and for the other people in his life who were the recipients of his bad choices.

McDonald is a physically intimidating male, but as a man he is far less impressive. A very long time ago he needed counseling and he needed a mentor to help him make good, solid ethical choices. On the field, teams need his ferocity and physical gifts; off the field, no one needs him. He is 30 years old; his playing career is winding down, not ramping up.

At some point in life, whether you are a Cy Young winner, hoisted the Stanley Cup or had two sacks in an NFC Championship game, you are buying bread at the supermarket, cutting your lawn or taking out the garbage like every other slob in the neighborhood. The playing life of an athlete is short, bad ethical choices make it even shorter. You have to learn how to make it off the field. A man or woman with all that talent who throws it away makes me extremely angry.

Yes, athletes can sit back and laugh at my Sports Ethics messages, my talks and my consultation, but all too often I have the bitter last laugh. I am not an “X’s and O’s” kind of guy; I don’t know Ty Cobb’s lifetime batting average; I won’t debate whether Michael or LeBron was/is better. I am not a sports “on air,” I am not a defensive coordinator. I teach men and women skills that last them a lifetime.

Ask me what bad choices and poor ethics can do to an athlete or his/her team. Ask me where poor ethics lead. More than that, ask me how I can help to prevent bad choices from happening. Where will Ray go from here? I just don’t know, but I have a few ideas and none of them are good.



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