LOS ANGELES, March 18, 2014 — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay gave the National Football League a black eye by getting arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. In addition to abusing alcohol, police found various prescription drugs in his car.
Irsay’s arrest coincides with one of the biggest drinking days across the globe. Jews are just finishing their celebration of the holiday of Purim, where they are commanded to drink to excess. The Irish are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, where the alcohol will flow all night. College students on Spring Break are expected to turn cities from Miami to Cabo into giant keg parties.
Irsay is not Jewish (although his father was), Irish, or a teenager. He is a 54-year-old adult who should know better. If he wants to get drunk to the point where he is seeing music and hearing colors, that is his right. His rights ended once his inebriated body stepped behind the wheel of an automobile and turned the ignition key.
Like the Kennedy children, Irsay made his money the old-fashioned way. He inherited it from his father Robert. Jim Irsay became a great owner by being lucky enough to draft Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf. He had a phenomenal team president in Bill Polian. Irsay used to just sign the checks and get out of the way. In recent years he fired Polian and then attacked Manning over Twitter before reconciling with him and releasing him, because only the most bored of liberal billionaires spend time on Twitter.
When Rush Limbaugh tried to purchase an interest in the St. Louis Rams, Irsay put his liberal politics above football. He attacked Limbaugh as unfit to own a team, despite Limbaugh’s extensive experience playing and observing football. Limbaugh made controversial comments about Donovan McNabb that Irsay, being a liberal, insisted were racist. Meanwhile, Irsay was donating his money to paragons of virtue such as former vice presidential candidate John Edwards and Senator Harry Reid.
Irsay has always talked about protecting “the horseshoe,” the symbol of the Indianapolis Colts. The only horse Irsay focused on as he got more erratic was his own moral high horse. While Limbaugh was struggling to overcome his addiction to prescription pain medication, Irsay was being judgmental while suffering from his own demons.
Irsay and many of his enablers may think that a DWI is no big deal. Everybody does it. It happens. Tell that to Josh Brent. The former Dallas Cowboys nose tackle went drinking and driving in 2012. The resulting car crash injured him and killed his teammate and best friend Jerry Brown. Only dumb luck found in a horseshoe or four-leaf clover kept Irsay from killing somebody.
The Josh Brent saga never needed to happen, since the National Football League has drivers on hand for any player who drinks too much. The drunk player can make an anonymous phone call and get picked up, no questions asked. Since drinking is legal, there is no punishment to taking advantage of the NFL’s car service.
Due to pleas from Brown’s mother, Brent received a ridiculously light sentence of 180 days in jail and ten years of probation. Thankfully NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cracked down hard from a football standpoint.
Goodell has made his mark as commissioner by handing out stiff sentences for bad behavior. Players have accused him of being too heavy on the players while being too light on the owners. Those players are wrong. Goodell handed out a thirty day suspension and $100,000 fine to Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand for DWI. He also fined the late Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams $250,000 for making obscene gestures to fans of an opposing team. The New Orleans Saints bounty scandal led to a $250,000 fine for owner Tom Benson and a one year suspension for Coach Sean Payton.
Jim Irsay is an owner. The fine has to be larger. The suspension must be longer.
Former owner, Eddie Debartolo was suspended for a year from the 49ers for being associated with gambling. A one-year suspension of an owner has precedence.
Goodell has repeatedly said that nobody is more important than “the shield.” He should fine Irsay $1,000,000 and suspend him for the entire 2013 football season. Irsay is in no position to run a football team. He cannot be allowed to do one of those celebrity rehab trips where he spends 30 days hiding out, announces he is better, and then receives a heroic welcome for overcoming a problem before his next relapse. Overcoming alcohol and drug abuse takes time. A year should be enough time for Irsay to get clean and sober.
Irsay is one of the least sympathetic individuals on planet earth. He was born wealthy and inherited one of the greatest 32 jobs in the world. He gets to own a team in the most popular and financially profitable game in sports history. Like a Kennedy descendant, he had too much money, too much free time, and a sense of entitlement. While Irsay’s car did not go over the Chappaquiddick Bridge, it very well could have.
Irsay is not a victim. He is a screw-up. Maybe time off will help him be more understanding of people who, to quote the late Texas Governor Ann Richards,” were unlike him, not “born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
He had years to get help on his own. Now it needs to be forced on him. Let him come back to the NFL after the 2014 season has ended and before the 2015 NFL Draft. Have him make a seven figure donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving or some comparable charity. Anything less would be unfair to loyal fans of the shield and the horseshoe.Click here for reuse options!
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