Colts owner Jim Irsay didn’t shed much light on the specifics of his current status with the league in his first interview since his arrest this spring, but he say he’s undergoing random drug tests, and the results of those tests are being shared with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Irsay talked to Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz, and though he wouldn’t say specifically why he failed a field sobriety tests or whether he thought he should be held to a higher standard than players, he did describe his ongoing battle with addiction which stems from the pain of back and hip problems.
“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 said he’s been alcohol-free for more than a decade, and was still taking pain medication, though it was closely monitored by his doctors and would eventually be decreased. He described his pain medication as “the least invasive from an addiction standpoint and the most helpful from an orthopedic standpoint.”
And though he didn’t discuss much regarding the pending charges for operating a vehicle under the influence, he disputed some of the facts in the case. He said it wasn’t unusual for him to be traveling with $29,000 in cash, as he was the night he was stopped for erratic driving.
He also hedged when asked if he felt the need to apologize to anyone.
“I don’t think that’s something I’ll address right now,” Irsay 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.”
Admitting some culpability might have been a nice first step, especially at a time when the league is deciding how best to punish one of their own business partners, while the labor force is watching them closely.