On Thursday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith took shots at the NFL for its failure to promptly discipline Colts owner Jim Irsay. On Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell fired back.
“The personal conduct policy applies to commissioners, owners, players, coaches,” Goodell told reporters Friday, via the Associated Press. “It applies to all of us. We all have a responsibility to do things the right way. There are several players that we haven’t taken any action on, either.
“We like to get the facts, we like to be thorough and we like to understand them. Charges were just filed last week. I don’t believe there’s a credibility gap.”
The remarks came in response to Smith’s attack on the league’s failure to take swifter action against Irsay.
“The Commissioner understands that there is a significant credibility gap that exists in the National Football League now,” Smith said. “I think what troubles our players is the speed and the deliberateness of punishment that they have seen in the past when it comes to a player, there isn’t the same speed or deliberate action when it comes to an owner, and that’s a problem.”
While the players have good reason to argue that owners should be held to a higher standard, Smith’s belief that the league is moving more slowly as to Irsay than it would as to a player is misplaced. For players who are first-time offenders, discipline is almost never imposed until the legal process has concluded.
Irsay is a first-time offender. If he’s treated like a player, he won’t be disciplined until after the legal case is resolved — and he won’t be suspended for a first offense. In this specific case, the tea leaves currently suggest that Irsay will be suspended and that it will happen before his prosecution reaches its conclusion.
The challenge for Goodell will be to find the right punishment, one that sends a clear message that owners are held to a higher standard without unfairly impacting Irsay or creating a competitive disadvantage for the team.