The Raiders took a chance on Gareon Conley and have been vindicated, at least in the eyes of the law — and maybe only for the time being.
April 25th, 2017, the day before the 2017 NFL Entry Draft: Gareon Conley, former Ohio State cornerback who was not yet drafted to an NFL team, was accused of rape. The next day, he denied the accusations. At the time, many predicted Conley to be drafted in the first round, including an especially accurate prediction here on FanSided.
While many thought the accusations would thoroughly decimate his draft stock, the Oakland Raiders selected Conley 24th overall. While the news was serious, it did not end up severely impacting his draft stock.
Fast forward to July. The Oakland Raiders obviously believed Conley’s story because he signed his rookie deal on July 28. Shortly after that, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that Gareon Conley’s case was sent to a grand jury. The Cleveland Police Department confirmed this.
While some expressed concern over the case being presented to a grand jury, it worked out in Conley’s favor at the end. Below is the official release from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, as provided by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
What does this mean for Conley and the Oakland Raiders?
A decision to decline to indict likely means the case is not very strong, at all. Grand juries have been shown to indict almost all the time, meaning that when one refuses to indict, the case against the accused is fairly weak.
That being said, this does not mean Conley and the Oakland Raiders are out of the woods yet. With Adrian Peterson’s now infamous case dealing with him disciplining his child with a switch, injuring the boy, a grand jury issued a “No Bill” verdict the first time around.
A grand jury later indicted Peterson, and he pleaded no contest to reckless assault, a misdemeanor charge. While Peterson avoided jail time and is still playing in the NFL today, he already had a Hall of Fame career behind him. Conley is not so blessed.
With the recently heightened atmosphere towards domestic and sexual abuse, the NFL has cracked down on cases like these. If Gareon Conley’s case is taken before a grand jury again, he could be indicted. That could mean the end of a promising career before it begins. It could also mean yet another busted first round pick by the Oakland Raiders.