The NFL didn't wait long after Jim Irsay's legal process played out to punish him, and it didn't go lightly on the Indianapolis Colts owner either.
Irsay has been suspended six games and fined $500,000, the maximum allowed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Rapoport also said Irsay has been banned from social media, which Irsay uses regularly, and can't be at the team facility, attend practice or go to league functions.
On Tuesday, Irsay pleaded guilty to impaired driving stemming from a March 16 arrest, and was given one year of probation and 60 days in jail, though 58 of those days are suspended and he was given two days credit for time served.
It's little surprise Irsay got a significant penalty. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had little choice, given how the players were likely waiting to make sure an owner got at least as much of a penalty for violating the league's conduct policy as they have. Owners should be held to a higher standard, and in this case Irsay was treated swiftly once his court case had been cleared up.
The punishment doesn't affect the Colts on a day-to-day basis while Irsay serves his suspension. The front office will continue to do its job and the coaches will do theirs, and the Colts probably won't notice much that the owner isn't around every day.
The suspension part of the punishment was more of a message than something that would actually punish the Colts. But the message is clear that if owners violate the conduct policy, there will be repercussions.
Irsay was very up front about his addiction and battle to overcome it in a statement released by the Colts shortly after the suspension was announced:
"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."
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