What does getting pulled over with a briefcase and duffel bag full of pills and cash get you? If you’re Colts owner Jim Irsay, two misdemeanor charges. That’s according to Fox59 Indianapolis, which reports that Irsay will be charged with one count of “operating while intoxicated,” and one count of “operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substances or its metabolite in the body.” Those substances, according to the station, were oxycodone and/or hydrocodone. That last charge is notable—it means he’ll be tried only for driving while stoned off his ass, not for having a veritable pharmacy of pills in quantities too large for human therapeutic use. But according to Fox59’s source, the amount of pills “did not rise to the level of dealing status.” The charges against Irsay carry maximums of 60 days in jail.
Although 60 days in jail is no “walk through the park”, it appears to be a slap on the wrist. Now it’s time to see what the NFL will do. This brings forth the question, should the League serve as an interventionist? Or should the league bring about the normal punishment that it hands out for misdemeanor charges? Those close to Jim Irsay have commented that he appears to have obviously relapsed back into a dangerous lifestyle of prescription drug abuse. Mr. Irsay was close to getting a more serious felony charge for the amount of pills that he had. This tells us that his usage is at a large amount and that he is in danger of hurting himself or hurting someone else. What should the NFL do? Holding an NFL owner to the same standard as a player would give Irsay a huge fine and somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4 game suspension. A good number of people feel like he should be held to a higher standard.
But…is this enough of a punishment to make Jim Irsay, or the next owner who is using, stop and think about what is at stake? You have to ask yourself, if the legal system is giving Irsay what appears to be a huge break with the actual charges and then the NFL decides to dish out a few game suspension and a fine, would all of this encourage Irsay to continue this destructive behavior? On the “flip side”, if the NFL were to step up and hand out a stiff penalty, this might help detour Irsay or get any other NFL owner to think twice before engaging in this type of behavior.