May 10, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on left and owner Jim Irsay on right watch from the sidelines during the Colts Rookie Minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Colts Notebook: How Will Jim Irsay be Punished?


It has been five days since Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested for driving under the influence. Irsay faces four felony counts for possession of a controlled substance.

Since then, Irsay has checked into a treatment facility to address his addiction.

In a statement from the team, he “took the first step toward regaining good health. He voluntarily checked into a highly-respected health care facility and is committed to undergoing the treatment and care necessary to help him meet his challenges head-on. Jim, the Irsay family, and the Colts organization are all deeply appreciative of the incredible outpouring of support and compassion from our fans and the Indiana community.”

In his absence, Irsay’s daughter, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, will take over the day-to-day operations of the owner.

There is a difference between what Irsay is going through and say what Pat McAfee did back in 2010. Irsay is clearly battling an addiction that is ruining his life. McAfee was a drunk 23-year old who made the bad decision to swim in the Broad Ripple canal.

The saving grace of each incident is that no one was hurt. I don’t want to give Irsay a pass on this issue. As a man who is worth $1.6 billion, and makes an annual salary of roughly $200 million, there is absolutely no reason for him to be driving in an impaired state. I hope he gets help as he is one of the more level headed owners in the league and has done a lot for the community.

There is zero reason for anyone affiliated with the NFL to ever get picked up for a DUI. The league has a car service that will pick you up AND will even send an extra driver to take your car back to your home as well. Couple that with the fact that the league minimum is $420,000 (for rookies) a year and its baffling that we ever hear of players getting arrested for drunk driving.

The NFL has to punish Irsay. If they don’t, the league will lose all credibility with the players who are held to the same personal conduct policy. It might be some time before we see a punishment handed down, but it will likely be fairly steep.

Former head coach Tony Dungy said in a radio interview with 105.3 The Fan’s New School with Shan & RJ that the Roger Goodell has to take action against Irsay.

“I think they have to. Everybody is going to look at this and say, when this situation arises with a player, that action is taken. It happened with front office people in Denver, I believe last year, and action was taken. If the commissioner doesn’t step in with something, I don’t think it will be good. I think something has to be done, and again, hopefully everyone benefits from it.”

How do you fine someone who is worth billions? The NFL fined an executive $100,000 for a DUI, but that is nothing to Irsay. For a fine to make an impact, it has to be proportionate to the persons bank account. Something in the million dollar range shouldn’t be out of the question.

Aside from the fine, I think the NFL should suspend him indefinitely or at least until he is out of rehab. Keeping him out of the Colts Complex will hurt. Irsay loves football and his team. He isn’t like most owners who just sign the checks and hire a staff.

Irsay has been involved in just about every level of the organization. He was the team’s general manager before taking over as owner. He has a much higher football IQ than your run of the mill owner. His absence will actually hurt the team.

This isn’t to say that Irsay is a micro-manager, but he does have an impact on personnel decisions. General manager Ryan Grigson has praised his wisdom and knowledge.

Taking away his team, even if its just temporary, will hurt Irsay.

Once his stint in rehab is completed, Irsay should also have enter the league’s drug testing program. The program features random drug tests and holds players accountable for their actions. It would keep track of Irsay while also making sure that he is staying clean.

The Colts shouldn’t be punished for the transgressions of its owner. Anyone thinking they will lose draft picks is likely wrong (also Grigson already traded most of them away).

We hope that Irsay gets the help he needs and can get healthy. He has been an exemplary owner over the past 17 years and will hopefully be in charge for the foreseeable future.

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