NFL: Irsay suspended 6 games, fined $500K

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Hours after Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of operating while intoxicated, the NFL suspended him for six games and fined him $500,000 for violating the NFL personal conduct policy, the NFL said on Tuesday.

Irsay will be suspended from the team’s first six regular-season games and can return to the Colts’ game against the Houston Texans on Oct. 9, according to a statement provided by the NFL.

Terms of Irsay’s suspension include the following, as listed by the NFL:

  • 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.

In a letter to Irsay, Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote:

“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 following statement from Jim Irsay was sent out shortly after the announcement of his suspension:

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.

Earlier Tuesday, Irsay pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of operating while intoxicated. He was arrested in March on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance. Inside Judge Richard Campbell’s courtroom, Irsay was asked if he dealt with addiction, to which the Colts owner replied: “I have had it in the past… with problems I’ve had in the past.”

Irsay’s attorney James Voyles said his client would continue to receive “treatment” under the terms of the plea agreement, which will last for one year. At one point during the hearing, the judge asked Irsay, “I assume you will be able get around for the next year without a license?” To which Irsay replied: “Yes.”

As part of the plea deal with prosecutors, Irsay must serve one year on probation, during which time he can’t drive, drink or possess alcohol and must provided confirmation of prescribed medicines if asked. He also must attend a victim impact class. Miksha said the second misdemeanor charge involving possession of a controlled substance was dropped because they couldn’t prove the prescriptions didn’t belong to Irsay. In open court Tuesdsay, Irsay told Judge Campbell he did not have a prescription for the medications that night. He later acknowledged that he takes heart and blood pressure medication and medication for pain.

Irsay’s entrance and exit from the Hamilton County courthouse was an orchestrated affair with private security monitoring doors both inside and outside of the courthouse. Irsay, who thanked fans for their “support” in a brief exchange with reporters before the hearing, later avoided talking to reporters by leaving through a basement tunnel that led from the probation office in the current judicial center to the old courthouse in Noblesville.

Since his March arrest, all parties have been somewhat mum about the case – only choosing to announce developments on the Friday before the Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends.

When asked if that gave the appearance of preferential treatment, Miksha said: “I don’t think it has that appearance. The plea agreement that was tendered under the same terms that many of our OWI defendants have.” Later he added: “Let me talk about the one I can control. That Friday before Memorial Day that was our call. And that was so I didn’t have to deal with all of you. In criminal litigation, I cannot say much beyond what’s in the public record.”

Steve Stoesz, a defense attorney with no ties to Irsay’s case, said the punishment fit the crime.

“I do not believe there was preferential treatment – Mr Irsay received the guilty plea agreeemnt that one of my clients might receive or any other person charged with a similar offense,” he said.

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