Jim Irsay is the Guinea Pig for Roger Goodell

Published: Mar 18, 2014 05:05am EDT
By JasonNeal, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 18, 2014 @ 05:05am EDT


Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, was arrested on Sunday evening for driving under the influence of a controlled substance.  Irsay faces four felony charges and was released from a Hamilton Country Jail early Monday afternoon.  While Irsay has always been a little out there in terms of the way he conducted himself, this is far and away the worst thing that has happened to Irsay, at least in the public eye.

The most interesting thing in all of this is the way that NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, will deal with one of the 32 owners whom Goodell works to please.  Roger Goodell has taken the stance of being a hard-nosed commissioner and has punished players and coaches alike for their public displays of stupidity and ignorance.  Aldon Smith was checked into a rehab program and missed five games in the 2013 season due to a DUI arrest.  The details of Smith’s agreement with the commissioner are not common knowledge, but suffice it to say that Goodell would not flinch to suspend Smith if he slips up again. 

Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games for violating the leagues personal conduct policy.  That suspension was later reduced to four games, but Goodell’s stance was made clear – if you embarrass yourself and the league, the league will make sure you pay for it.

Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints were also a target of Goodell’s stance on embarrassing the league after the Bounty Gate scandal.  The Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, was accused of running a bounty program, paying defensive players for big hits, injuries, and knocking opponents out of the game.  There was audio of a meeting before the Saints took on the San Francisco 49ers in a playoff game where it certainly sounded like the Saints were targeting Alex Smith and Frank Gore.  Payton was suspended for a year, Williams indefinitely, and several players were suspended for varying amounts of time.

So this all begs the question – what will Goodell’s punishment be considering the offender is one of the 32 owners who pay him an annual salary of $44 million?  Will he go easy on Irsay because he is not an athlete in the NFL?  Will he come down harder on him because Irsay is an owner and should be setting the ultimate example?  What is clear about all of this is Goodell’s legacy as a commissioner has been to protect the shield in any way possible and it doesn’t look very good when one of the owners of a prominent franchise in the league has such a public and humiliating arrest.

Irsay should be embarrassed for several reasons, but the biggest reason is his bad decision making. Irsay is worth roughly $1.6 billion and he was too stubborn to take a taxi home?  Even if that taxi were to cost him $100, which is quite literally NOTHING to someone who is worth $1.6 billion.  Irsay is the first owner to have an issue on this level since former 49ers owner, Eddie DeBartolo and his riverboat gambling license fiasco in the late 90’s.  DeBartolo was fined by the NFL, suspended for one year, and ended up selling the 49ers due to legal issues.

I am not saying Irsay should or will sell the Colts, but Goodell needs to come down hard on the incorrigible Irsay.  Irsay has a propensity to use social media in bewildering ways, but most of the time it is humorous to onlookers.  There is nothing humorous about Irsay driving under the influence of anything.  It goes without saying that a Donte Stallworth episode would have been disastrous for Irsay in ways that have a much further reach than tarnishing the NFL’s public perception.  It would ruin Irsay’s life and the lives of an unknown amount of people if Irsay had killed someone in his joyride. 

Substance abuse is not something to joke about and neither should Goodell’s punishment for Irsay.  Commissioner Goodell needs to show Irsay, the other 31 owners, and every player, coach, team employee, and fan that his zero tolerance policy extends to every corner of the NFL and is not reserved solely for the players and coaches. 


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