LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey voiced concern for former defensive end Ray McDonald's accusers Wednesday, but feels the organization has the proper system in place to handle players with questionable character.
McDonald was arrested Monday in California on suspicion of domestic violence and child endangerment. The Bears later released him.
"The overriding emotion for me was sadness," McCaskey said when asked his reaction upon hearing of McDonald's arrest. "Sadness for the child, for the child's mother and for the entire situation. Domestic violence is a vexing social problem. The NFL has had some high-profile cases, including this one, and the NFL, because it's a leader in a society, is called upon to take action, which we are doing. We're not going to do it by ourselves, but I think we have an opportunity to make an impact."
McCaskey admitted to feeling regret over how the McDonald situation unfolded after he gave Bears general manager Ryan Pace permission to sign the veteran player to a one-year deal in March despite knowing his past legal troubles while with the San Francisco 49ers.
"I've asked myself that question a lot: What more could I have done?" McCaskey said. "Is there somebody else we could have consulted with? Should I have taken more time to make a decision? I don't know. We thought we had a good structure, a good support system. We thought we had safeguards in place in case something like this happened."
"It was our decision, my decision ultimately, alone."
Moving forward, McCaskey does firmly believe the Bears have the right system in place to deal with players with character concerns.
"Well, one positive is that's a word that can be used, to come out of this is that the process that we've set up has been reinforced and in the end worked," he said. "As I said, we had safeguards in place. Ryan came to me for permission. So we have the reinforcement of that process. I just need to make a better decision."
Bears running back Matt Forte did not want to discuss the specifics of McDonald's case but said character is vital in an NFL locker room.
"That's all you want in a locker room is character guys," Forte said. "Because you get a character guy, and he makes the team better. It's not only about himself. He wants to produce, and he wants everybody else to be successful, too, so he's going to bring everybody up."