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Owners, other key employees should be included in the substance-abuse policy

Irsay Getty Images

As the question of if and when and for how long Commissioner Roger Goodell will suspend Colts owner Jim Irsay for the incident that created a public-safety hazard in his team’s home market percolates among players and fans, it will take more than a suspension and a fine to prevent it from happening again.

Irsay needs to be required to submit to drug testing, like a player would be.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com notes the importance of imposing testing on Irsay.  One unnamed retired player believes the testing should be even more stringent than the protocol applied to players.

“When that discipline comes, he ought to be tested daily,” the unnamed former player told King.  “If they can test a player 10 times a month, an owner should be tested more.”

For now, owner participation in the substance-abuse policy and program are voluntary.  At a time when more and more people are noticing the difference in the way the league treats players and owners, maybe the time has come to require all owners, along with other key team and league personnel, to participate in the program.

[If] it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander,” NFLPA president Eric Winston recently told PFT Live.  While that comment related not to drug testing but to punishment, the sentiment applies to any and all issues related to procedures that could result in player discipline.

“Owners own for decades,” Winston told King, reiterating the sentiment the free-agent offensive lineman articulated last week on PFT Live.  “Players, if we’re lucky, might play for a decade. If protecting the shield is the most important thing, and owners are the ones most responsible for the league’s future, the owners have to be held to a higher standard.  So I don’t understand how we can be talking about comparing the punishment of a player to what the league might do to an owner.  Owners should be held to the highest of standards.  And I can tell you, players are watching.  A lot of players are watching.  This has been on players’ minds for quite a while.”

In some respects, owners are indeed held to a higher standard.  The late Bud Adams was fined $250,000 for firing off a double-barreled middle finger several years ago; a player would be fined a fraction of that amount.  Likewise, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo was run out of the league 15 years ago after an indictment arising from federal allegations arising from efforts to get a casino license in Louisiana.  Mike Vick plead guilty to dogfighting and admitted killing dogs, and the league welcomed him back after he served nearly two years in prison.

In other respects, owners continue to be held to a lower standard.  When it comes to substance abuse, there’s no standard.

At a minimum, owners and other key personnel should be held to the same standard when it comes to the league’s position on alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational drugs that don’t enhance performance.  Unless and until that happens, other owners could end up creating public-safety hazards in their home markets, too.

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72 Responses to “Owners, other key employees should be included in the substance-abuse policy”
  1. rg3sus says: May 26, 2014 10:05 AM

    I don’t see why owners should be tested unless they are in some sort of recovery program. Should more or less be the same for the players. So long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, who cares what owners and or players do in their free time.

  2. prospero63 says: May 26, 2014 10:07 AM

    I love how your response to one double standard is to propose another double standard.

  3. rcj22001 says: May 26, 2014 10:07 AM

    This is the way it should be across the board in employment, but it’s not. People with money, and those who make the most money, write the laws, they don’t adhere to them. Gotta love modern-day Rome.

  4. thevikesarebest says: May 26, 2014 10:13 AM

    Test the shehawks coaching staff.im pretty sure cheat Carroll is on drugs the way he hops all over the sideline.

  5. sickcuz says: May 26, 2014 10:15 AM

    They shouldn’t test the owners…..They own the company; so, they make the rules. If you want to make the rules, own the company.

  6. uglydingo says: May 26, 2014 10:18 AM

    Suspension of Irsay for 6 games is not the solution. However, take away the Colts top draft pick next year and that will anger the whole Colts organization from management, coaches, players and fans. Everyone will realize that Irsay’s addiction cost the team and maybe he will begin to show more accountability.
    This would be a far more appropriate than Roger spanking him or slapping him $500K fine or keeping him out of his stadium for a few games.

  7. yesrowntreeyesgrosvener says: May 26, 2014 10:19 AM

    Should? Yes.

    But good luck with that.

  8. phinfanatic84 says: May 26, 2014 10:20 AM

    I’m all for for owners and coaches being subject to the same discipline for DWI’s and drug arrests, etc but to say that the league should be able to test owners up to 10 times a month is getting ridiculous. The NFL’s brand is the game and the players who play the game.

    The owners sign the paychecks and that includes the paychecks of the players, coaches, and Roger Goodell. I for one don’t buy jersey’s with Stephen Ross’ name on the back and I don’t go to the games to watch the owners. I also don’t think if an owner like the late Ralph Wilson is taking HGH that it is going to give the Bills a competitive advantage. The players are grasping at straws by trying to have the owners subject to the same exact drug testing and discipline policies that THEY negotiated with the league as part of their collective bargaining agreement.

  9. teal379 says: May 26, 2014 10:20 AM

    I’m fine with that – but then I also want players to shut up about it when they pop positive. The “I was on adderal” or “I didn’t know it was banned, someone tainted my smoothie” excuse – if you utter that at all – immediate 2 year ban from football.

    Just shut up and take the punishment. Either you’re lying (most likely) or telling the truth, if so – sue. If you win, we all know. If you lose – we all know you’re a liar.

    Really getting sick of players yapping about everything. It’s a club you’ve begged to join and now all you do is complain about it.

    You hate the NFL and feel like “slaves”- quit. That’s right – quit. Otherwise shut up and play.

  10. mz1394 says: May 26, 2014 10:25 AM

    These players are forgetting the golden rule the person with the gold makes the rules. Owners have made their money outside of the NFL then bought in so they get to make the rules. Without the owners most of these players would be saying would you like like fries with that. Can’t have inmates running the asylum. If the players don’t like the rules find a different occupation

  11. dartwick says: May 26, 2014 10:28 AM

    Why are we testing players for non-performance enhancing drugs at all?

    The only time players should be tested is it appears they may have went to work while under the influence.

  12. thestrategyexpert says: May 26, 2014 10:32 AM

    The laws will get reconciled one day. Ancient Rome was a great city but a corrupt city. It’s only a matter of time before a modern day Spartacus rises and rebels and leads the people to freedom. There will be money blood.

  13. 700levelvet says: May 26, 2014 10:32 AM

    The players can always sue them if they are acting irresponsibly

  14. dtr3e says: May 26, 2014 10:36 AM

    Ok so what if Irsay is suspended? I highly doubt that him being suspended is going to effect the team at all, not like the Saints when they lost coaches. Irsay owns the team. Unless he’s banned (which I also highly doubt) the Colts will going on with business like usual. The only thing the players will have to deal with, is the media asking them questions and trying to make a story out of all of it.

  15. pittsteelers101 says: May 26, 2014 10:39 AM

    I guess this policy doesn’t pertain to the giants! New York Giant Will Hill fails three drug test but isn’t suspended for a year ? When others have failed three times they are suspended indefinitely! Mr. Goodell I’m watching you on this one!

  16. computojon says: May 26, 2014 10:42 AM

    Let’s reconsider that DeBartolo-Vick comparison for a minute. DeBartolo was “run out of the league”. Vick spent two years in prison.

    Somehow we’re supposed to interpret that as “owners are held to a higher standard”?

  17. bigfuzzy says: May 26, 2014 10:43 AM

    To me, the issue is one of “Image” and “role models”.

    Owners have very little, if any, effect on the image of the league among the vast majority of NFL fans and advertisers, ie those putting money into the league. Unless an owner pulls a “Sterling” the “Shield” of the NFL is not going to be affected on any real account.

    Also owners aren’t rolemodels to the young people of America. When was the last time you saw any young kid saying he wanted to be a old, crusty, white owner? They should, but that’s not the point.

    Being ex-military I of course believe in “Leading from the Front” but this isn’t the military. The actions of an owner aren’t really going to do anything to the Shield..let’s be realistic.

    So, whilst in a perfect world everyone is treated equally, it’s just not needed in this case. Should Irsay be suspened/fined? Yes. Should all owners/executives/etc be held to the same standard? No, not in my opinion. Where would it stop. Does each hot dog vendor have to be drug tested every week? I know that if I had to sell hotdogs or t-shirts at an NFL game I’d be doing lots of booze/drugs…

    So yeah.. no.

  18. kingknute says: May 26, 2014 10:43 AM

    Owners and players are not the same. One writes the check the others cash the check.

  19. jdbaker01 says: May 26, 2014 10:45 AM

    If u really wanted to punish colts then force them to have rick spielman as their gm

  20. purpleppleeaters says: May 26, 2014 10:48 AM

    Why isn’t the legal system enough to cover all this, for everyone? It is applied equally.

    Once you get into the “code of conduct” business, and imposing penalties outside those imposed by the legal system, you immediately start walking the slippery slope line. When you tell folks what to do, what to say, and what to think, you are infringing on their Constitutional rights.

    If Irsay, or any of his players are breaking a law, they’ll have their day in court, and be punished accordingly.

    Aside from that, let’s play some football, shall we?

  21. campcouch says: May 26, 2014 10:49 AM

    Mandatory drug testing for employees only is weird. It’s usually a company zero tolerance policy. If it’s not a PED or a felony offense,let the law handle it. If everyone that works for the NFL isn’t required to test for recreational drugs,why should they test at all. Yep,players are an investment,but so is the trainer,hot dog vendor and CEO. After all the stuff that has occurred in the NFL the past 5 years alone and the popularity hasn’t waned,obviously the shield isn’t being tarnished by DUI’s and weed busts. Hey,Jamal Lewis ran a telephone order drug ring and still was allowed back into the league,so image isn’t a problem. All or none NFL.

  22. greymares says: May 26, 2014 10:51 AM

    As a football fan I couldn’t careless about owners and executives being suspended unless they’re cheating. for that matter I don’t care about player suspensions unless they are for performance enhancement, or another form of cheating.

  23. dennisatunity says: May 26, 2014 10:54 AM

    sickcuz says:
    May 26, 2014 10:15 AM
    They shouldn’t test the owners…..They own the company; so, they make the rules. If you want to make the rules, own the company.
    ________________________________
    That seems like a good point until you remember that the owners benefit directly from the legislators and the taxpayers. They are the recipients of anti-trust legislation, and public tax dollars for their stadiums. So, no, they should not be able to make the rules. When they get legislative and taxpayer-paid breaks, they should have to submit to the rules and regulations that best serve the public.

  24. bigfuzzy says: May 26, 2014 10:57 AM

    Well said!

  25. yate3097 says: May 26, 2014 11:14 AM

    Next the lawyers will want to test the fans entering the stadium. They’re going to kill the golden goose by over-litigating every aspect of the game. I expect an article soon that lawyers should run the replay system.

  26. minnesotablizzard says: May 26, 2014 11:14 AM

    Those in charge don’t want you to control the state of your own consciousness. Plain and simple. It’s disgusting that people are in favor of drug testing to begin with.

  27. misfit74 says: May 26, 2014 11:17 AM

    If I were a billionaire owner of an NFL team I’d want to do whatever the hell I wanted! Well, provided it wasn’t racist or wasn’t directly harmful to other people. Personal problems should be a personal responsibility if you’re the boss.

    Owners have many, many other people running their teams. They sign the checks and occasionally help make some big decisions. Why would a billionaire owner want to pee in a cup every week?

    In most businesses the employees pee in cups – not the owners. It’s not a level playing field. That’s not changing.

  28. bsizemore68 says: May 26, 2014 11:29 AM

    Some would see it as the haves and have not’s. Been this way from day one, and its not going to change. Give me a team and I will say stuff your drug policy, because I’m an owner, or as in the Navy ( RHIP ) Rank has it’s privilege’s, so less play some football. Bill

  29. evilglazers666 says: May 26, 2014 11:34 AM

    Is Jimmy Haslam getting punished for stealing millions of dollars?

  30. thelastpieceofcheese says: May 26, 2014 11:41 AM

    Why only players, owners and key employees? Let’s extend the policy to all team employees and members of the media that cover the NFL

  31. nyneal says: May 26, 2014 11:43 AM

    It’s a good idea and should be done, but getting the owners to police themselves is like asking the President and Congress to do that. It just isn’t happening.

  32. packerbackernj says: May 26, 2014 11:44 AM

    This is absurd. Only companies in the world where people think the owners are also employees. The owner of my brokerage is an avid coke head, and its well known. He has that luxery, because he’s the owner, not an employee.

  33. sickcuz says: May 26, 2014 11:46 AM

    When they get legislative and taxpayer-paid breaks, they should have to submit to the rules and regulations that best serve the public.

    That sounds well and good in a classroom, but the public isn’t served by these rules. Only Special Interest is…Speaking on the subject of tax breaks is assuming that every dollar an entity makes is really the government’s money when in reality it is money the government hasn’t taken. So, making rules on money not owned by the government is a dangerous precedent.

  34. thetruthcampaign says: May 26, 2014 11:50 AM

    In one respect, the owners are the examples to the players. In another, the players are the examples to our kids and young athletes. Anyone who is serving as a leader and example should be clean.

  35. willycents says: May 26, 2014 11:56 AM

    Knowing this will not be posted:
    Perhaps everyone who has a great influence on the public perception of the NFL should be subject to the NFL drug testing protocols….Owners, players, staff…..and the group who has the greatest influence on the public….media members. How many of those who say the most about it would volunteer?

  36. annes22 says: May 26, 2014 12:00 PM

    misfit74 you are missing the point. Irsey was driving after consuming alcohol and pills, and had plenty of pills in the trunk plus all the cash.
    Driving could kill someone I think. He should get some punishment like all other people. He is not above the law.

  37. brownsmakemecrazy says: May 26, 2014 12:14 PM

    Some of your arguments are laughable. Guess what without the players, owners dont participate in the gravy train known as the NFL. The players dont have high paying jobs without the owners. Both need each other to succeed.

    Sure players are replaceable, but guess what so are the owners. Its easier to find 32 billionaires, then it is 600 quality players.

    Owners should be subjected to the same punishment as the players. The owners want to lay the hammer, then they should get the hammer too when they screw up, i.e. Irsay, Haslem, Wilf.

    And its sure as easy to find a Comminssioner with a brain that doesnt command a 44 million dollar a year salary, for doing what exactly, screwing up the game? Im sure every money making idea wasnt generated by corrupt Goodell.

  38. rtroy23 says: May 26, 2014 12:28 PM

    That’s nuts. Maybe I’m in the minority here but I think the owners should do what they want. They don’t play the game. They write the checks. Eric Winston is an idiot. Sorry to say it but that’s life the man with the largest checkbook gets certain thing overlooked. It just happens. Suck it up and deal with it.

  39. cfballfan1 says: May 26, 2014 12:55 PM

    I love how people think that “holding the owners to the same standard as players” is somehow “fair.” Owners own. Coaches and players work for them . Deal with it.

  40. teal379 says: May 26, 2014 1:09 PM

    I love hearing players talk about double standards as they stand there with their wife who was knocked unconscious and dragged around like a rolled up carpet.

    Remind us again, players, how you’re held to such a higher standard that it’s time others are brought UP to where you have to work….

  41. wolfman55h says: May 26, 2014 1:12 PM

    Irsay a perennial ass clown is riding around hammered on booze and scrips and Goodell drags ass doing a thing, but if he surprised his players with a watermelon break at practice he’d be labeled a racist and run out of the league in an afternoon. Moral of the story- it’s ok to to be a threat to kill someone on the highway just as long as you’re politically correct while doing it.#societyajoke

  42. bobnelsonjr says: May 26, 2014 1:24 PM

    I’m not worried about any of the Packers owners being included.

    What can they do make them lose their spot on more than one lifetime waiting list for season ticket?

  43. jrs1972 says: May 26, 2014 1:57 PM

    I thought the whole idea behind testing players was to be sure none are getting any type of advantage on the field. How would testing the guy that raises the FG netting to make sure he didnt eat a pound of pot brownies for breakfast effect what happens on the field exactly?

  44. SparkyGump says: May 26, 2014 2:11 PM

    Can we include tests for delusion and narcissism for owners such as Jerry Jones?

  45. mackcarrington says: May 26, 2014 2:47 PM

    Now they want to test owners for steroids and performance enhancers?

  46. sidepull says: May 26, 2014 3:13 PM

    Easy. Take a number one pick. Money and suspension means nothing to a dope fiend owner and probable dealer.

  47. mailcall2 says: May 26, 2014 3:15 PM

    Ok…your comments have got me pumped! I’m all in! So please hear me out… I submit we pan the stadium crowd with face-recognition software with virtual breathalyzer capabilities.Then start jerking fans (above.08) outta their seats, and putting them in the league substance abuse program that requires they piss in a cup at the entrance gate for all future games. AND we’re gonna call it Roger-Gate.

  48. rukkus1 says: May 26, 2014 4:05 PM

    We should be telling them what they all can eat and what they can drink too. Then after we got that down, we will tell them what to think.

  49. rukkus1 says: May 26, 2014 4:08 PM

    Anyone who thinks that people should be subject to different rules when you work for for the same organization are funny.

    It’s people like you that enable hard core classism.

  50. conormacleod says: May 26, 2014 4:31 PM

    This is as dumb as it gets. Players are tested because they take performance enhancing drugs and it gives an unfair advantage. Irsay should be tested daily?! Why?! They own the damn teams. There’s already a double standard. LIFE is a double standard and life isn’t fair. If people haven’t learned this yet then you are an idiot.

  51. wisconsinhillfolk says: May 26, 2014 4:51 PM

    Seeing so many paycheck-to-paycheck-living fans defend the rights of billionaires and “bosses” is hilarious entertainment on this Memorial Day… And by hilarious I mean disheartening.

  52. zeke2517 says: May 26, 2014 4:54 PM

    Random drug testing has no place in a free society.

  53. JSpicoli says: May 26, 2014 5:38 PM

    Since you candy coated it, let’s state the facts.

    “Little Eddie” DeBartolo is a convicted felon.

  54. JSpicoli says: May 26, 2014 5:40 PM

    Why not drug test the owners? We can already take personal property away (Or so some seem to think) because of what they say or think.

    Someday everyone is going to wake up and say “WTF are we doing?

    I hope.

  55. descendency says: May 26, 2014 5:42 PM

    What Irsay is doing is illegal and it’s bad for the shield. The players, even if they are saying it for the wrong reason, are right this time.

    It makes the NFL look bad when one of their owners is a drug addict in much the same way it looks badly when the NFL is letting their players run around doing illegal drugs. Having a double standard is silly.

    When Jim Irsay gets high, the headline isn’t “Jim Irsay, son of Robert Irsay…”. It says “Jim Irsay, NFL owner…”

    Having said that – obviously it doesn’t make sense for the NFL to waste it’s time randomly HGH testing the owners. I highly doubt those elderly people are trying to get jacked by doping it up.

  56. inallsincerity says: May 26, 2014 6:27 PM

    Goodell wants to defend the shield. Well, if he truly means that, then it starts with him and the 31 owners (-GB) on down. No double-standards.

  57. craigkintexas says: May 26, 2014 7:06 PM

    It’s interesting to see how many on here hate capitalists and owners.

  58. coachbeck says: May 26, 2014 7:37 PM

    Why on earth should they be treated the same? It’s the players fault for letting a union negotiate for them. No union then players could negotiate discipline on an individual basis rather than a group.

  59. jrcowboy49 says: May 26, 2014 7:48 PM

    The real standard is that you have employers (owners) and employees (players) and the business golden rule, “he who has the gold rules.” The owner has control of the contract or you walk. Other wise how do you think the players and fans have had to put up with the idiot owner/GM (Jerrah) all of these years!

  60. catquick says: May 26, 2014 8:35 PM

    I don’t agree. They aren’t the product. They’re physique is inconsequential to the play on the field.

  61. ytownjoe says: May 26, 2014 8:38 PM

    Pot is a performance enhancing drug? If not, why are players tested for it?

    Same rules should apply to owners. If they get arrested for DUI or recreational drugs, test them just as players are tested.

    Protect the shield.

  62. phinfanatic84 says: May 26, 2014 9:26 PM

    Why do some people think that the owners work for the NFL? They don’t… they made their money BEFORE they bought their team and the League (commissioner included) works for them. Some people need a reality check.

  63. tomtravis76 says: May 26, 2014 9:41 PM

    Teams already have their own policies as far as drug testing goes, and it is random drug testing. Some teams will even send their business side employees to counseling instead of outright firing.

  64. jollyjoker2 says: May 26, 2014 10:25 PM

    this is all Politically correct bs..unless a guy is taking drugs to turn himself into a gorilla ,than he should be able to do what he wants… I mean, the patriots had a serial killer on their team and received less press.

  65. jimmyt says: May 27, 2014 7:46 AM

    The operative word here is Owner. And the NFL is not a democracy.

  66. tvguy22 says: May 27, 2014 8:42 AM

    No way I’m taking him in my fantasy draft now…

  67. TheWizard says: May 27, 2014 9:40 AM

    Yes, comrade, and morning calisthenics for everyone at 5 a.m. after saluting the statue of dear leader. Don’t forget to let the watchers know if your neighbor is seen using tobacco.

    That’s what this country needs – more regulation.

  68. weepingjebus says: May 27, 2014 10:23 AM

    How about the posters? Should we be tested? Because I have to admit, I’m pretty hepped up on skittles right now.

  69. trubroncfan07 says: May 27, 2014 11:02 AM

    These players in this era are complete morons, they think they run these leagues now. What a joke!

  70. mogogo1 says: May 27, 2014 11:26 AM

    If nothing else you’d think the NFL would want some sort of slap on the wrist punishment of owners just to try and cover themselves from PR disasters. Imagine Irsay getting busted again today with the NFL still having done nothing to him from his last arrest. And if he hurt somebody in an accident the NFL would never live that down. It’d be national news how they just looked the other way.

  71. truths4all says: May 27, 2014 11:49 AM

    The Basic Question is “Why?”

    Are these non-players the ones the fans are paying to see perform on the field? Where does this invasive insanity stop? Why are more regulations and requirements needed when there are already laws out there for substance abuse?

    The underlying reason is the lethal infusion of redundant laws, policies, and regulations fostered by attorneys (with no other solutions than the same old tired and ineffective laws) and an over-reliance on a totally corrupt legal system (consider the judge who ignored the laws on the books to illegally and arbitrarily allow Conyers to stay in the election in Michigan) that has brought itself to a paralyzed overbooked status where cases take years to wind their way to any type of conclusion. All this while innocent folks are jailed and crooks walk away free with millions in their pockets, especially Wall Street Billionaires and multimillionaires (does anyone really think Buffet is clean?).

    Let’s require daily drug testing on all attorneys and judges at all levels before we require that of others.

  72. prismsoul1965 says: May 27, 2014 12:06 PM

    I served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years and took drug tests whenever I was asked and never complained. I understood why those tests are necessary.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Congress (who mandates that military personnel are drug tested) is NOT tested and there are numerous reports of congress members being caught using illegal substances.

    Now, I know they make the rules. I know that they aren’t holding weapons and on the front lines. However, congress members make decisions that affect military personnel and if you make decisions that affect people’s lives, you shouldn’t be using illegal drugs, should you?

    The owners should be tested to set the example – they should volunteer (all of them) to be tested and if they don’t volunteer they should be voluntold to take the tests.

    If you expect your workers to be illegal-drug free and you make decisions that affect their lives, you, too, should be illegal-drug free.

    It’s all about responsibility and accountability.

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