It’s safe to say, you should probably wait until charges are no longer pending before bringing someone in to speak with at-risk kids. Hayward school superintendent Stan Dobbs brought in Ray McDonald back in February to speak with “at-risk” kids at Tennyson High School. There was plenty of uproar at the time, and now, Dobbs has been suspended with pay while the school board investigates the decision to bring in McDonald.
The program was arranged through Hayward Promise Neighborhood, and Dobbs has said he brought in McDonald not as a role model, but as someone who could convey how he screwed up his life.
Generally speaking, having someone who has messed up speak to at-risk individuals can certainly hold some value. They can point to their own poor choices, and provide examples of how it can screw up their lives. Professional athletes in particular can show how far the fall can be when you make stupid decisions.
The problem with using McDonald as an example is he is still fighting charges that led in no small part to his exile from the NFL. Had he been found guilty and accepted his guilt, maybe it would make some sense. A better example might be Ray Rice. On the one hand, the press conference with his wife in which she admitted some fault was absolutely horrendous. On the other hand, he has since seemingly taken steps to show remorse and try and become a better person. I don’t know nearly enough to say for certain, but I’ll take that over someone still fighting the charges. This is not to say that McDonald will be found guilty, but it’s hard to get a straight story at this point.
Another example would be Michael Vick. Plenty of people will never forgive Vick for his dog-fighting ring. However, he admitted to his crimes, served his prison sentence, and now works as an animal rights advocate. Plenty will not buy into what he’s doing, but again, when it comes to having someone speak to kids, I’d take that over Ray McDonald in his present situation.