By Michael Matter,
Sports Business Writer
All too often in the world of sports one hears of athletes being arrested for driving under the influence or for possessing illegal substances, however one rarely hears of an owner of a professional sports organization facing those same charges.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested for these charges late in the evening on Sunday, March 16.
Irsay was pulled over by police for suspicion of driving under the influence in a suburb of Indianapolis and when police searched his car they found Xanax, Valium and Ambien.
Irsay claimed to have prescriptions for the pills that were found in his vehicle but faces four felony drug charges for the substances found in his car. If Irsay is convicted, he could spend six months to three years in jail for every count.
In response to the arrest, Irsay voluntarily checked himself into a rehabilitation center to help him overcome his addiction.
Unfortunately this is not the first time Irsay has been battling a substance addiction. In 2002, Irsay admitted to being addicted to painkillers after he had a few surgical operations but had claimed he had overcome his addiction. Irsay says he has been clean for ten years.
The felony charges may not be the only ones coming Irsay’s way. It would make sense to think the NFL and Roger Goodell would level some penalties against the Colts’ owner. Owners and personnel staff of teams should be held to a higher standard than players in these situations.
Goodell has had to deal with situations like this in the past. In 2010, the commissioner fined Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand $100,000 and suspended him 30 days for a DUI. However Goodell has never dealt with an executive facing drug charges like the ones Irsay is facing. Goodell has made no comment about leveling penalties against Irsay.
With Irsay in rehab, the Colts face some hurdles going forward. In the midst of free agency, not having the team owner around can be a difficult undertaking even though Colts general manager Ryan Grigson says it should not be an issue.
“He (Irsay) hired me to make football decisions, so I don’t see any of that changing… he lets us all do our job. I don’t really see it being an issue,” Grigson said in a statement.
While Irsay is away, his daughter, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, has the final say on all team decisions.
In Irsay’s absence, Grigson has the task of preparing the Colts draft board for the NFL Draft, which takes place in early May.
Situations such as these are never a good thing. All one can do is be grateful that no one was injured while Irsay was driving under the influence and hope that he gets the help he needs in order to fully get a grip over his addiction so that this never happens again.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Mar. 25 print edition.
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