Jim Irsay arrested for alleged DUI
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay probably wouldn’t mind someone showing him a “rewind” button on life right about now. The 54-year-old native of Illinois was arrested on March 16 on an alleged DUI and drug possession (four) charges. He’s since checked into rehab while his daughter, Carlie, takes over, but his fate is still up in the air.
A statement released by the Colts said that, “Yesterday, Jim Irsay 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.”
Unfortunately for Irsay, there’s no amount of support in the world that can save him from the hot water he’s landed in. Although it’s thought by many that Irsay won’t see any jail time due to, among other things, this being his first offence, the fact remains that the four drug possession charges could result in up to three years each. Seeing as Irsay is a prominent figure, it’s possible that the law will actually go harder on him to show that there is no preferential treatment given to important persons. On top of his trouble with the law, Irsay will also likely face discipline from the NFL.
Even Tony Dungy, a former head coach for the Colts who describes Irsay as, “a person who is very self-sacrificing and would do anything for you,” thinks that the league has to come down hard on him: “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.”
Dungy’s hit it dead on the nose, especially when he mentioned that action is always taken when a player is involved in some misconduct. A fine means nothing to Irsay. The man is a billionaire. Slap him with a suspension from all NFL games and being involved with the team. The Colts are that man’s life and, aside from his family, probably the only thing he cares about. When you’re in the public eye, you have to be aware of the consequences of your actions at all times. If some teenager gets caught with drugs that’s one thing, but an NFL owner? The stakes are immeasurably higher.
On that drug-related note, I find the cries for Irsay to undergo regular drug testing a little out of line. While drugs may affect his performance overseeing the team, it’s certainly not a safety issue. He’s not a doctor. He’s not a construction worker. He’s a man sitting behind a desk with a computer and a telephone. Those who argue that public money has been spent on the Colts, and, as such, it is a somewhat taxpayer-funded company and gives the common man a say in how Irsay should conduct himself, don’t have a leg to stand on. The main point is based around Lucas Oil Stadium, but everyone knows that money was spent willingly by the city and the state to ensure that the Colts stuck around. Having a good football team is a strong financial help; Indianapolis is privileged to have the Colts, not the other way around. As long as he’s not putting other citizens at risk, what a man does with his free time should be of no concern to anyone.
Irsay is going to have enough to deal with from the law and the league without people trying to control his every move. The man screwed up and clearly has a problem—he doesn’t need people prying into and monitoring his private life as well.