A few days ago, I wrote about the connection between the police and Ray McDonald, noting that it could be potentially dangerous for the 49ers and for the execution of justice. A few people noted that the case has been closed and there seems to be no need to rehash old issues. I'm sympathetic to the argument-I also want to just focus on football. Also, I do think that McDonald was put under a significant amount of scrutiny, some of it unfair to himself, to his fiancé, and to the investigation.
While a certain degree of scrutiny is warranted in a high profile case like McDonald's, I do think it ought to be conducted in an appropriate manner. That didn't always happen. But, as fans of the 49ers, we should have a vested interest in making sure the team we support isn't encouraging an unhealthy relationship between police officers and the players. This could lead not only to bad PR for the team and league consequences from the higher ups, but also a disruption in the carrying out of justice.
A good example of what sort of situation I don't want the 49ers to confront is what is occurring at Florida State University. The mess in Florida started with the revelation that the police carried out, essentially, no investigation into allegations of rape concerning Jameis Winston. His hearing has been delayed until December 1.
Now, the New York Times has recently published an article that illuminates some troubling actions taken by Tallahassee police officers and FSU campus officers in response to a car accident on October 5. The article does an excellent job of laying out the actions taken by the officers and why they are not consummate with previous actions taken by the Tallahassee Police Force. All signs indicate that the players are receiving preferential treatment. I would suggest that you read the article to get down the events. I won't reproduce them here because last time a couple of people indicated that they found that journalists were writing unethically by blurring the line between reporting and providing an opinion. I'll be upfront: I'm interpreting the details of a report provided by the NY Times and formulating an opinion. This is an opinion piece. I'm not trying to trick anybody.
But, the actions taken by the police and the school seem pretty clear to me: they are indications that neither the university nor the police force have a desire to investigate and prosecute football players accused of impropriety to the fullest extent. I'm particularly troubled by the recent car accident. The offers originally wrote up the accident as a hit and run, changing it to two minor tickets upon learning who the suspects were. In addition, the police did not even suspect the use of alcohol, even though it was basically the textbook situation in which a DIU might be the most reasonable outcome. Such illogical actions taken by the officers indicate that they have little to no interest in causing the athletes trouble, even when the accident was severe.
I imagine there will be consequences and fallout from these events. I don't know what; I also don't know when. But, something like this scandal is too damning to not incur consequences. This is a shame, too, since the culture at FSU seems to be one that encourages competition. Football is loved there. It would be highly unfortunate if an improper relationship between the university and the police department hampers the community's ability to engage in football.
And this is what I want to avoid with the 49ers. Thus far, the team does not appear to have an inappropriate relationship with the police nearly to the level of FSU-if at all. And I really hope that whatever potential improper action did occur is an anomaly (and note my phrasing: I'm not saying for certain that something improper did actually occur). The 49ers really don't need to be plague with long-term problems as a result of faulty housekeeping.