The NFL has suspended Jim Irsay for six games to go with a hefty fine after the Indianapolis Colts owner pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported news of the punishment Tuesday:
Colts owner Jim Irsay suspended 6 games, fined $500K per source— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 2, 2014
Irsay provided an initial statement following the suspension and fine, courtesy of Eye on Football via Twitter:
Irsay was arrested in March for operating a vehicle while intoxicated as well as four counts of possession of a controlled substance, according to Josh Katzowitz of CBS Sports. Mark Alesia and Phil Richards of The Indianapolis Star reported the details of the plea bargain, which was made official on Tuesday:
Colts owner Jim Irsay will spend one year on probation after pleading guilty to driving under the influence.
During a change of plea hearing held this morning at the Hamilton County courthouse, Irsay entered a guilty plea for one misdemeanor charge of impaired driving stemming from his arrest by Carmel police on March 16. A similar charge was dropped.
Mike Wells of ESPN.com provided some additional information on the situation:
Irsay was sentenced to 60 days in jail but 58 days were suspended and he was given 2 days credit for the day he spent in jail when arrested— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) September 2, 2014
Before the suspension was announced, Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated provided a look at how this differs from normal punishments from the commissioner:
Key legal difference between Goodell sanctioning Jim Irsay & sanctioning a player is that owners have no collectively-bargained protections.— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) September 2, 2014
Shortly after the plea deal became official, the league released a full look at the punishment for Irsay, along with a letter from Roger Goodell. Here's a brief excerpt:
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 is not allowed to go to the club's facility or attend any practices or games during the suspension. He will also be restricted on social media, as ESPN's J.A. Adande explains:
Clarification: the Irsay Twitter ban only applies to team & league matters. So I guess the random rock lyric tweets can continue.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) September 2, 2014
The good news for the Colts is that it will not affect the organization in the draft, via Rapoport:
In a release out now, Goodell notes on Irsay no draft picks were forfeited “because the conduct did not have competitive consequences.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 2, 2014
Still, this is a relatively harsh penalty for Irsay, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports argues:
The Irsay penalty is a strong one in my estimation. A 1st time DUI offense for a player would be no games and a $50K fine— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 2, 2014
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman provides his take on the suspension:
When you dig deep, the Irsay punishment is actually spot on. NFL did hold him to higher standard. Player would have gotten no suspension.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) September 2, 2014
On the other hand, ESPN's Linda Cohn wanted an even harsher punishment to send a message:
Mike Sando of ESPN.com certainly did not think the penalty was too bad:
I don't come away from the Irsay suspension thinking, "Wow, can you believe how hard the league came down on him?" Do you?— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) September 2, 2014
As far as the fine is concerned, it was the most allowed by the current rules. However, Darren Rovell of ESPN notes this is not too significant for Irsay:
Jim Irsay's $500K fine is the = to fining a fan $13.24, based on the US median net worth of $45K.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) September 2, 2014
Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com believes players will not be happy with the punishment:
Players are the ones who need to feel Irsay penalty is sufficient. I'm going to guess they will look at this and say, "double standard."— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) September 2, 2014
It is clear no one approves of Irsay's actions, although there seems to be a wide array of opinions concerning what the punishment should be for this crime.
Goodell will certainly hope this precedent will at least cause others to be more careful in their personal lives.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.