As the notion that owners should be held to a higher standard than players for situations arising away from the gridiron, the increasing pressure on the NFL to take action against Colts owner Jim Irsay could actually help the players over the long run.
The league apparently won’t be issuing discipline against Irsay until his legal situation is resolved. Even then, the league’s hands could be tied by rules that put the maximum fine at $500,000. (That rule didn’t help Saints coach Sean Payton, who lost more than $5 million when he was suspended for a year.)
If/when (when) the NFL finds a way to not punish Irsay based on the idea that he needs help for apparent issues with chemical dependency, perhaps that will cause the NFL to apply a greater degree of understanding for players with similar issues. If owners merit special understanding when it comes to the disease of addiction, players do, too.
Regardless of how it all plays out, treating the owners the same way as players may no longer be good enough, and a culture of punishment could yield to compassion if/when (when) Commissioner Roger Goodell decides not to punish one of the league’s owners.