S.F. Board Denounces 49ers Over Handling of Ray McDonald Case

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San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, wearing No. 91, in action in 2012. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, wearing No. 91, in action in 2012. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to denounce the 49ers for the team's handling of felony domestic violence charges against defensive tackle Ray McDonald.

The board on Tuesday approved a nonbinding resolution by Supervisor London Breed that calls on the team to keep McDonald from playing until Santa Clara County authorities conclude their investigation into the case.

McDonald was arrested early Aug. 31, reportedly after an altercation with his fiancee during a birthday party.

The team has been widely criticized for allowing McDonald to play in the team's season opener on Sunday despite the charges. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has said McDonald is entitled to constitutional due process rights before the team acts, a stance reiterated during a KNBR interview Tuesday by team owner Jed York.

Breed's resolution argues that "while criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty and prosecutors must prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt, the threshold of accountability should rightly be lower for decisions about participating in a corporate athletic event for the public’s entertainment."


Breed also noted that former 49ers players have supported the idea of keeping McDonald off the field while Santa Clara County law enforcement officials investigate the case. And she mentions that when San Francisco city employees face serious criminal charges related to their jobs, it's standard operating procedure to put them on paid administrative leave.

The resolution comes a day after the issue of domestic violence committed by NFL players leaped again into national headlines with the disclosure of a video showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching and knocking out his fiancee in a New Jersey hotel elevator.

Rice reached a plea agreement in that February incident that allowed him to avoid trial on aggravated assault charges. NFL Commission Roger Goodell later suspended Rice for two games.

The leniency of that penalty prompted outrage from domestic violence survivors and their supporters and from many voices in the media. On Aug. 28, three days before McDonald's arrest, Goodell admitted "I didn't get it right" in the Rice case and announced a new disciplinary policy, summarized this way by The New York Times:

... Any N.F.L. employee — not only a player — who is found to have engaged in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involved physical force will be suspended without pay for six games for a first offense. Second-time offenders will be banished from the league for at least one year.

Goodell said that second-time offenders could petition to be reinstated after one year, but that “there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.”

The Ravens immediately terminated Rice's contract after the entertainment news site TMZ.com published the knockout video Monday. The NFL followed suit by suspending Rice from the league indefinitely. Now, Goodell is facing questions about why the league never obtained the videotape during its investigation into the incident.

Here's the full text of Breed's resolution: