The news that Colts owner Jim Irsay has been ordered to testify in a child-custody proceeding didn’t register on a national-radar screen currently consisting of only one large blip: LeBron James. The development involving Irsay, however, undoubtedly resulted in a stream of four-letter words at the league office.
Rich and/or powerful guys don’t like to submit to the authority of a court of law. In part, they don’t like to do it because they don’t like to submit to any authority. They also don’t like to do it because, even when submitting to authority, they often can’t or won’t truly submit to authority, resisting that authority with every response to every question.
From the fictional realm, think Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. From a more timely, real-word perspective, think Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
It usually doesn’t go well when a rich, powerful guy with a history of surrounding himself by sycophants has to answer questions that he doesn’t want to answer and that he believes he shouldn’t have to answer. Men in that position all too often lack the self-awareness to know when they are saying something really, really stupid or really, really unbelievable or really, really harmful to their broader image and/or the interests of the league they represent.
Forced, sworn testimony would potentially not go well for any owner in any major-league sport. For Irsay particularly, a Pandora’s box of possibly bad outcomes for him personally and the league generally looms. The challenge for the league office will be to ensure that Irsay receives appropriate and thorough preparation on how to handle the compulsory Q&A.
So enjoy the LeBron situation while you can. Eventually, the biggest news in the NFL — and potentially in all of sports — could be the things Jim Irsay says on a witness stand and/or the manner in which he says them.