Roger Goodell has finally handed down the long-awaited discipline for troubled Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was arrested on drug charges in March. Irsay has been suspended six games and fined $500,000, the NFL announced on Tuesday afternoon.
More on Jim Irsay
More on Jim Irsay
The terms of his suspension bar Irsay from being at the club facility, attending practice or league functions and even being active on social media during the suspension. The suspension takes effect at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the reach of the league's personal conduct story in his letter to Irsay. Excerpted in the league's official announcement:
"I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players. We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard."
The daily operations of the Colts will be handled by COO Pete Ward, general manager Ryan Grigson and Irsay's daughter, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, while the suspension is in effect.
Irsay released statement accepting the league's punishment and expressed a desire to turn the incident into a positive event:
"I acknowledge the mistake I made last March and stand responsible for the consequences of that mistake, for which I sincerely apologize to our community and to Colts fans everywhere. Even more importantly, though, I am committed to do everything in my power to turn this whole experience into a positive event for myself, my family, and the community. In retrospect, I now know that the incident opened my eyes to issues in my life that needed addressing and helped put me on the path to regain my health. I truly hope and pray that my episode will help in some small measure to diminish the stigma surrounding our country's terrible and deadly problem of addiction. It is a disease like other progressive, terminal diseases-one that can only be successfully treated by understanding, committed hard work, and spiritual growth. I am deeply grateful for the tremendous outpouring of love and support during these past few months from my family, friends, care-givers, and our great community. Please know I am firmly committed to staying on my path to good health and I look forward to a great season."
The 55-year-old Irsay was arrested in the late hours of March 16 in Carmel, Ind. and initially charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and four counts of possession of a controlled substance. Blood tests revealed "oxycodone and/or hydrocodone" in his system after police pulled him over for traveling 10 mph in a 35 mph zone.
In addition to bottles of prescription drugs, police found nearly $30,000 in cash in Irsay's car, $12,000 of which was bundled into a laundry bag. When questioned about the cash by Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, Irsay brushed it aside with a vague reference to his being "extremely generous."
A recovering alcoholic, Irsay spent time in rehab after his arrest. He told Kravitz in June that he had agreed with local authorities to undergo random drug testing and plans on sharing that information with Goodell.
The fact that the league waited several months to discipline Irsay has not gone unnoticed by its players. Goodell has been criticized for using a double standard when punishing players and team owners, something NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith has called a "credibility gap."
"What troubles our players is the speed and the deliberateness of the punishment that they have seen in the past when it comes to a player," Smith said in late May.