Not long after Colts owner Jim Irsay had his day in court Tuesday, the National Football League delivered its long-awaited punishment for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Irsay, 55, entered a guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of impaired driving in a Hamilton County Court in Noblesville, Ind., and was sentenced to one year’s probation, his driver’s license was revoked for one year and he will be subject to monthly drug testing.
Then it was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s turn.
Irsay will begin a six-game league suspension at 5 p.m. Wednesday, at which time the owner cannot attend games, practices nor visit the team complex and he is forbidden from commenting on the team or league via social media. He was also fined $500,000, the maximum allowed by league rules.
The NFL release:
“Following his plea of guilty to one misdemeanor count of driving while impaired, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has been suspended for the team’s first six regular-season games and fined $500,000 for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, the NFL announced today. Mr. Irsay will be eligible to return following the Colts’ game against the Houston Texans on October 9.
“Terms of the suspension imposed by Commissioner Roger Goodell include the following:
“During the suspension, which takes effect at 5 p.m. ET tomorrow, Mr. Irsay may not be present at the club’s facility, may not attend any practices or games, may not represent the club at league or league committee meetings or at any other team or league event, and may not conduct media interviews or engage in social media regarding any team or league matters.
“In addition, Mr. Irsay is fined $500,000, the maximum permitted under league rules.
“Irsay will be subject to ongoing treatment, counseling, and testing as determined by medical professionals and the Indiana court.
“Commissioner Goodell noted that no draft choice forfeiture or other competitive sanction will be assessed because the conduct did not have competitive consequences.
“In a letter to Mr. Irsay, Commissioner Goodell said, ‘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.’”
Irsay’s daughter, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, is expected to handle the team’s day-to-day operations while he is suspended. She was put in charge when her father voluntarily checked himself into a rehabilitation facility after his arrest.
Jim Irsay released this statement through the team:
“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 terms of Irsay’s plea agreement were:
— Sixty-day jail sentence (58 suspended, two-day credit for time served).
— Ninety days added to a previous year suspension of his driver’s license.
— Probation for 365 days where he must submit to random drug testing, is prohibited from possessing or drinking alcohol, must provide the court with valid prescriptions to all medications, must successfully complete his rehabilitation program, must attend a victim impact panel.
— Must pay court costs of $168.50 and $200 alcohol countermeasure fee.
The second misdemeanor charge was dismissed as part of the agreement. Irsay waived several rights, per the deal, including any modification or appeal of the agreement.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.