On Monday, famed former NFL linebacker and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest turned himself in to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Later Monday, TMZ published troubling video of the incident, which reportedly took place at West Hollywood restaurant Delilah on Dec. 9:
New England Patriots legend Willie McGinest beat the hell out of a man at an L.A. hotspot earlier this month … punching the guy in the face and later bashing him in the head with a bottle — shocking new video, obtained by TMZ Sports, shows. https://t.co/HtEAybUrMS
— TMZ (@TMZ) December 20, 2022
BREAKING: Former #Patriots star and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest has been arrested for felony assault after he beat the hell out of a man at an L.A. hotspot earlier this month, punching the guy in the face and later bashing him in the head with a bottle, video? pic.twitter.com/TIfa8o8NHi
— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) December 19, 2022
The video can be seen here or here if those links don’t load. And, following that, NFL Network told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk McGinest “will not appear on NFL Network while we review the matter.” And later on Monday, McGinest posted to his Instagram story “Things aren’t always how they seem at first glance. The Truth will prevail.” Lucy Burdge screenshotted that and posted it to Twitter:
Who’s going to tell Willie McGinest there’s pretty good video footage of what happened pic.twitter.com/C6PQBbR7z3
— Lucy Burdge (@LucilleBurdge) December 20, 2022
Yes, there absolutely can be cases where even seemingly-compelling video evidence doesn’t show everything and doesn’t lead to a conviction. One recent example of that came with Brendan Langley, a then-CFL player who was charged with simple assault in May after video of him fighting with a United Airlines employee at Newark International Airport went viral. Langley claimed the employee verbally harassed him and then started the fight, and the charges against him were eventually dropped in July. But Langley didn’t wind up back in the CFL despite that, so even that precedent illustrates that there can be employment consequences without convictions, and that’s perhaps even more true in the media world.
There are some other elements that appear to stand out in the case of McGinest (who played for the New England Patriots from 1994-2005 and the Cleveland Browns from 2006-08, then went into the media world with ESPN, Fox, and eventually NFLN). Those include the apparent use of the bottle as a weapon, what looks like him throwing the first punch, and what looks like the people with him also punching this person.
There may well be some revelations to come on what led to this incident and what exactly happened. And it’s far from clear that this will lead to a felony conviction; there’s a long path to that point. And some or all of that may be why NFLN has only gone with “will not appear” rather than language of a suspension or termination to this point. But it does seem difficult to envision what particular “Truth” could make it worth it for them to bring back McGinest after this video.