Colts owner Irsay suspended, fined by NFL

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has his license suspended for one year and will be subject to drug testing as a result of his March arrest for driving while intoxicated.Michael Conroy/AP Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has his license suspended for one year and will be subject to drug testing as a result of his March arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Colts owner Jimmy Irsay was suspended for the first six games of the regular season and fined $500,000 by Roger Goodell after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to one misdemeanor count of driving while impaired.

Goodell had been waiting for the case to be adjudicated before handing Irsay his suspension. He had already met with Irsay, who was arrested in March. Irsay was penalized under the personal conduct penalty. He is eligible to return following the Colts game against the Texans on Oct. 9

“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,” Irsay said in a statement where he accepted Goodell’s punishment and apologized for his actions. “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.”

“Please know I am firmly committed to staying on my path to good health and I look forward to a great season.”

Irsay’s suspension begins Wednesday at 5 p.m. He may not be present at the club’s facilities or represent the team at league meetings or league events or do media interviews. The league is also shutting down his social media interactions during his suspension. Irsay is active on his Twitter account.

“I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players,” Goodell wrote in a letter to Irsay. “We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard.”

Goodell was severely criticized for giving Ravens running back Ray Rice just a two-game suspension following his arrest for domestic violence. He subsequently rewrote the policy last week, which now gives players a six-game suspension for a first offense and a permanent ban for a second offense with a chance to petition for reinstatement after one year.

Irsay’s suspension won’t have much impact on the Colts season. The roster and contracts have been set. Irsay will be subject to ongoing treatment, counseling, and testing as determined by medical professionals and the Indiana court. The Colts will not lose any draft choices.

The length of the suspension and the fine seems fair. The $500,000 fine is the maximum permitted under league rules and keeping an owner away from his team for six games of the 16-game suspension won’t be easy for Irsay, who spends most of his business time around the team.

Ed DeBartolo was the last owner suspended by the NFL. The former 49ers owner was given a one-year suspension and fined $1 million by Paul Tagliabue after a 1998 felony conviction for failing to report a bribe relating to a Louisiana casino project. He later divested himself of his interest in the team.

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