In his first extended interview since his March arrest for DUI, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz that he is on the path to recovery and that he's subject to drug tests whose results are being shared with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
But Irsay also kept a lot private and contained in the interview.
When asked if he felt the need to apologize for his actions, Irsay sidestepped the question.
"I don't think that's something I'll address right now," he said. "There are certain things I want to say that I can't say. We need to let the process go forward and I'll address that later. I'm a human being; if there's something I have to apologize for, I would, but at this point, it wouldn't be appropriate. It sets me up, like if you don't say you're sorry, then why aren't you saying your sorry, and if you say you're sorry, then you must have done something wrong."
Irsay, 55, is subject to discipline from Goodell, and reports are that the commish will come down heavy — ESPN's Adam Schefter has speculated that Irsay will be hit with a suspension of six to eight games and a fine of about $1 million. Irsay already has lost his driving privileges for a year stemming from the arrest. He told Kravitz that he has agreed to random drug testing with the state prosecutor's office, and that Goodell's office will be seeing the results of those tests.
But Irsay returned to work after a leave of absence and was active during the NFL draft and owners meetings in May, even helping pitch a Super Bowl for the city of Indianapolis. This angered the NFLPA, which claimed that Goodell had not punished Irsay with the same swiftness as he had several players for off-field discipline. Goodell's response has been that the case remains pending.
That also is the reason why Irsay recused himself from answering several of Kravitz's questions, including what exactly happened the night of the arrest, what his interactions have been with Goodell to this point, whether he'll take a plea deal for the arrest and also the details of his current rehabilitation.
Another lingering mystery: the $29,000 cash found in Irsay's possession at the time of the arrest. Irsay appeared bothered that the information came out, citing his philanthropic nature as the reason he was carrying a suitcase full of cash while under the influence.
"I don't know why that was leaked to the press or what it had to do with anything," he said. "You're talking about someone who is extremely generous, and I say that humbly. That's the way I try to live my life and it has nothing to do with the law. What's been reported out there, there's been a sensationalizing about things that have nothing to do with the law. It shouldn't be an issue."
But in general terms, Irsay says he's improving health-wise and that he's making the steps he needs along this path.
"It's all been a blessing, just being able to focus on my health and redouble the efforts on recovery,'' Irsay said. "It's been a long path. I still have chronic pain. But it was the good thing… In some ways, (going through rehab) is my greatest moment. It takes courage to try and overcome the difficulties you have. For some reason, it's seen as unheroic. When someone beats cancer, it's like, `Wow, that's so heroic,' but when someone has this illness, it's treated like you're a leper because that person is morally corrupt, and that's not the case.
"... It's an ongoing thing in one's life when recovering from any disease. The disease never sleeps so you have to be proactive when dealing with it. But the journey is great because it forced you to grow spiritually. There's a lot of gratitude and spiritual growth. And it's rewarding because it makes you more virtuous when you have success."
Irsay also reinforced to Kravitz that he's healthy and focused enough to run the team and to be a role model while doing so. He also believes that he'll be around a long time in the role of Colts owner.
"I'd like to think I have many good years left," he said.
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