The National Football League’s new domestic violence policy will be tested just three days after it was implemented by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
San Jose, California, police arrested the San Francisco 49ers’ starting defensive end Ray McDonald on Sunday on felony domestic violence charges.
Police say they responded at 2:48 a.m. to a reported incident, and after “the domestic violence allegation was substantiated,” they took the 6-foot-3, 290 pound lineman into custody and booked him.
CNN affiliate KTVU reports that several of McDonald’s 49er teammates were at his house at the time of the arrest.
“The 49ers organization is aware of the recent reports regarding Ray McDonald and we take such matters seriously. As we continue to gather the facts, we will reserve further comment,” team General Manager Trent Baalke said in a statement.
This isn’t McDonald’s first brush with the law, according to KTVU. The station says in 2010, McDonald was arrested for an outstanding warrant stemming from a DUI arrest.
Goodell announced on Thursday that the league was instituting a six-game unpaid ban for personnel who violate the league’s policy on domestic violence.
A second domestic violence incident would be punished by a lifetime ban from the league, Goodell said in a letter and memo to the owners of the league’s 32 teams.
The NFL had endured relentless criticism after only suspending Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games, several months after video showed Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee — whom he later married — from an elevator.
Without referring to Rice by name, Goodell acknowledged in his letter that he made the wrong decision in that case.
“I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will,” he wrote.
The NFL Players Association responded on Thursday to Goodell’s enhanced penalties
“We were informed [Thursday] of the NFL’s decision to increase penalties on domestic violence offenders under the Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees. As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights,” said the association’s statement.
McDonald, 29, is expected to play a key role in the 49ers defense this coming season. The team has already lost outside linebacker Aldon Smith, arguably its best defensive player, to a nine-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse and personal conduct policies.
McDonald has played almost all of the 49ers’ games since 2008. He was drafted out of the University of Florida in 2007.