As a precursor to this article, I want to clarify that as with all writers/journalists/bloggers, I write through the lens of my own life. I am not-and never have been- addicted to prescription drugs, therefore I can only speculate how those individuals think and go about their lives. However, I am a supporter of the Indianapolis Colts, so I do have a perspective that is influenced by the organization, its personnel, and its owner.
Anyone who keeps up with the daily news or social media surely knows that on Sunday March 16th, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay was pulled over for driving under the influence. During the stop by Carmel police, Irsay failed several field sobriety tests and had Schedule IV perception drugs found in his vehicle. He was then arrested, taken to jail, and charged with four felony counts.
After the event took place, the sports world took notice with differing opinions on the subject. Some out there believe that Irsay should be treated lightly since he may not have had complete control of his actions, others believe that he was acting out of his own selfish interest and should have the book thrown at him. However, both sides have come to an agreement that they are not really surprised.
Irsay has spent a large part of his life fighting addiction, and most believe that this was not his first relapse since his sobriety started 15 years ago- as declared by the owner himself last October. If one takes a glance at Irsay’s twitter account, it is sprinkled with tweets that were most likely sent while intoxicated; and if he wasn’t drunk, then I am not sure what drunk tweeting looks like. For more factual proof, the Colts’ owner has lost 70 pounds in the last two years. Not many things besides disease or drug abuse could naturally explain this massive shift in weight.
Something that I did notice during this news storm was the amount of support that was given to the owner, support that has never really been given to the players in the same league. It seems to be a common occurrence in today’s world for professional athletes to be arrested for driving under the influence, and no one ever hesitates to pile on the criticism. The topic reached its peak in 2005 when Browns’ WR Donte Stallworth was arrested after killing a man while driving under the influence. Along with penalties from the state, Stallworth received a year ban from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
However, after Jim Irsay’s incident, there were far less cries for punishment than the calls for support. Spanning from new columnists, to NFL coaches, to recovering addicts across the nation; it seems as though people have forgotten that Irsay was one pedestrian away from an incident just like Stallworth. I am just unsure why people were so easy to forgive Irsay, who has put himself into the same exact position as countless other athletes.
I believe that since Jim Irsay is a part of the NFL, just like any of its players, he needs to be punished like any other in the association. During his time as commissioner, Roger Goodell has been known to deal harshly with DUI issues, so he needs to set the precedent that he will follow the same punishment protocol from top to bottom. Irsay needs to be suspended from the team until he has finished his time in rehab, and randomly subjected to drug tests throughout the rest of his time as an NFL owner.
Since Jim Irsay has chosen to make himself the face of the Indianapolis Colts, he takes on the responsibilities that come with it. If he wants to be a huge voice on twitter, he needs to stop making the team look like it’s owned by a drunk. If this kind of behavior continues, the team will look less and less appealing to those players looking for a good environment to play at a high level. If Irsay continues down this path, the Colts will be just one more organization that perpetually struggles due to poor ownership.