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NFL holds Irsay to higher standard, sort of

Irsay Getty Images

As expected, the NFL has lowered the boom on Colts owner Jim Irsay.  And the NFL believes that it held Irsay to a higher standard than the league’s players.

The NFL is correct.  Sort of.

A player who pleads guilty to a DUI ordinarily gets no suspension and a maximum fine of $50,000 for a first offense.  Irsay received a six-game suspension and a fine of $500,000.

It was also a higher standard when compared to the 2007 DUI of Dr. Jerry Buss.  The late Lakers owner was suspended only two games (they play 82 for the season) and fined $25,000.  (The NFL may not want to completely embrace NBA precedent, in the event that an NFL owner eventually is illegally recorded during a private conversation saying things that objectively would be regarded as inappropriate.)

The appearance of holding Irsay to a higher standard masks the inadequacy of the financial penalty.  The league office has advised PFT that there will be no monetary consequence beyond the $500,000.  Which means that Irsay will otherwise lose none of the money that he will earn during the six weeks that he’s suspended.

While the NFL’s constitution and bylaws cap any fine at $500,000, the league has no limit on the money that can be withheld when someone is suspended.  Saints coach Sean Payton, for example, lost more than $5 million during a full-year suspension for an overhyped bounty program that he had no involvement in establishing or maintaining.

Likewise, players routinely lose more than $500,000 during suspensions.  Broncos receiver Wes Welker, for example, will lose 4/17th of his $3 million base salary, 4/17th of his $3 million roster bonus, and 4/17th of his $2 million signing bonus allocation as a result of his four-game suspension for violating the PED policy.

That’s $1,882,578 in lost revenue for Welker.  And that’s well over three times what Irsay, a billionaire, will lose during a 50-percent longer suspension.

So while it generates a strong headline for an owner to be suspended, he’s not forfeiting anything close to the millions in revenue that will continue to flow into the team’s coffers.  The team he’ll continue to own will continue to generate enormous profits that he’ll continue to be able to do with as he pleases.

Ultimately, it’s not a real suspension unless the suspension comes without pay.  In this case, Irsay is being suspended with pay — minus an amount that, given his net worth and the revenue that will continue to be generated over the next six weeks, is roughly the equivalent of a speeding ticket.

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60 Responses to “NFL holds Irsay to higher standard, sort of”
  1. coachbeck says: Sep 2, 2014 8:04 PM

    They should hAve just taken away salary cap space, draft picks, and taken away the tags for a year.

  2. wnbasuperfan says: Sep 2, 2014 8:05 PM

    I do not pretend to understand Czar Goodell.

  3. thestrategyexpert says: Sep 2, 2014 8:09 PM

    He could always choose to make a voluntary investment into any worthwhile cause that isn’t required of him, just for the sake of raising the bar by holding himself to a higher standard than the one applied so far. Some people would probably complain that it’s just a PR move, but the people that end up receiving the money would surely appreciate it.

  4. The Steelers are embarking on The March®. The league trembles. Goodell and his goons will stop at nothing to halt our 7th and final Super Bowl victory. They will fail. SFL 2015 is God's will. We must restore the game we invented. March® with us. #7 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:10 PM

    Take the team and move it to a real city.

  5. lezmaka says: Sep 2, 2014 8:12 PM

    An owner pulled over for driving under influence (not drunk) gets you 6 games and $500,000 fine.

    But a player driving drunk, getting into a crash and killing a teammate is only 10 games.

    Seems fair…………………………………

  6. bullcharger says: Sep 2, 2014 8:12 PM

    It’s not true that it’s the equivalent of a speeding ticket. Irsay’s 1.5B net worth includes the team value… Which is likely close to 1B. He likely has many other investments that are not liquid that add up to the 1.5B. The revenue generated by the team isn’t profit that goes in his pocket. That also can’t be used to pay the fine. It has to be cash. I’m sure he has it, but it will still sting quite a bit.

  7. buffaloisadumpsterandtheirfansaremorons says: Sep 2, 2014 8:13 PM

    Brent, Rice, Smith, Irsay, just ban them all for life.

  8. tonymontana45 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:13 PM

    Move the team in the middle of the night like his father did…

  9. 4thqtrsaint says: Sep 2, 2014 8:17 PM

    Take away his pain pills & Twitter account. That’s punishment for airsay.

  10. bucsorbust says: Sep 2, 2014 8:18 PM

    What about all the narcotic pain killers? That’s why this isn’t just a normal DUI where you blow a .09 (while that is bad enough as it is).

    Hey, guys like Irsay are never sorry until they get caught or worse, kill someone. I’m glad for the victim he didn’t do the latter. Hopefully we never read about this happening with him again.

  11. truthfactory says: Sep 2, 2014 8:18 PM

    Stop it already!!! It seems you will only be satisfied when every owners punishment would leave him standing on the corner begging for money, or when a player signs a contract with $100 million in guaranteed money. Anything less in either case justifies an article from you that “more” should have been done in both cases.

    The punishment was perfectly fine in most peoples opinion.

  12. Marshawn Lunch says: Sep 2, 2014 8:19 PM

    I’d be curious to know how much the Colts make in profit over the first 6 weeks of the regular season. Parking ticket doesn’t seem like a good analogy. This is more like winning a million dollars and having to pay an extra .025% in taxes on your winnings. Irsay still walks away with more money than he started off with.

  13. bsizemore68 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:24 PM

    What else did anyone expect, after all he is an owner, as they say in the military ” RHIP “. Roger did what he needed to do to stay in good grace with the 32 who write his pay check. Bill

  14. mackcarrington says: Sep 2, 2014 8:28 PM

    I don’t understand why some people want to punish the team with draft picks and salary cap restrictions when this wasn’t anything to do with trying to gain a competitive advantage on the field.

  15. warhawk137 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:30 PM

    For the people saying that penalties should be relative to your income or net worth…

    Let’s say you make 50k/year. Let’s say you litter, and get fined $100.

    Should Bill Gates really get fined $7,500,000 if he litters?

  16. bduncanscott says: Sep 2, 2014 8:31 PM

    Oooooo he has to watch 6 games from his Mansion with a cold beer in his hand while he gets deep into some young Bombshells end zone!!
    Thats a harsh punishment NFL you meanies.

  17. mrtullymars says: Sep 2, 2014 8:31 PM

    Roger Goodell is a politician, not a commissioner.

  18. bayareacolt says: Sep 2, 2014 8:31 PM

    The punishment was sufficient. Leave it alone.

  19. justintuckrule says: Sep 2, 2014 8:31 PM

    Couldn’t have said it better. Cronyism at work.

  20. wjarvis says: Sep 2, 2014 8:33 PM

    They should make Irsay refund ticket holders 3/8th of the printed ticket value for each home game this season.

  21. ohiostatefootballsucks2014 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:33 PM

    What about the dead woman found in one of his homes?

  22. ghost26 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:39 PM

    Irsay is an admitted alcoholic & drug addict so I can assure you that he’s not getting off easy. This is a sick man & it’s a horrible affliction. Every day will be a challenge for him to stay sober. His wealth is irrelevant.

  23. glink182 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:42 PM

    What exactly is an owner suspended from? He isn’t the G.M. He isn’t the Head Coach. He isn’t the Director of Scouting. Irsay essentially is being given a six week vacation, as a penalty for being arrested for DUI, and carrying $26,000 in cash I a duffel bag. The full year of pay lost by Josh Gordon is conceivably 20 percent of Josh’s total career earnings, given the average length of an NFL career is roughly 5 years. An equivalent financial penalty for Irsay would be $300 million, which is 20 percent of his net worth. What a joke.

  24. xli2006 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:55 PM

    People do realize Irsay doesn’t actually do anything football related right?

    This has about zero impact on the actual team or games.

  25. thundertom2014 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:55 PM

    The thought that this was merely a run of the mill “DUI” is laughable. The OWNER OF THE COLTS had 29k in cash stuffed in a trash bag and suit case, as well as several bottles of pills. I mean, the guy wasn’t just out at Chili’s having a beer and driving home. Neither the fine nor the length of suspension were even close to enough.

  26. bill3334 says: Sep 2, 2014 8:58 PM

    Just what we need. More 8 year olds posting stupid comments.

    This punishment was much higher than any player on a first offense would receive. (10x the fine). The 500k was the maximum that can be handed out to an owner without the other 31 owners voting on a higher fine.

  27. norvturnersneck says: Sep 2, 2014 9:33 PM

    We all make mistakes. I was speeding on the freeway today for instance. “Others” would like to go add to this. Look in the mirror and think of your mistakes before you place your disdain on another. I think it is sufficient as a suspension and fine. I hope he learns too, and he provides insight and help to others that are in the same situation and close to him. The NFL will not be so kind next time either.

  28. sfm073 says: Sep 2, 2014 9:43 PM

    How do you even quantify the amount of money that goes into his pocket after six games? He is getting fined $500 grand which is $450 grand more than what a player would have been fined for a similar offense.

  29. jamaltimore says: Sep 2, 2014 9:46 PM

    Banning the owner for 6 games is worthless. The TEAM he owns should be impacted like draft, salary cap reductions etc should have been extended. This has nothing to do with being anti owner it’s just that his impact on the franchise for 6 games means Absolutely NOTHING. It’s also sounds like it’s not enforceable unless Belicheck is planning on taping family dinners throughout the week

  30. cantarguefacts says: Sep 2, 2014 9:52 PM

    People saying that draft picks and cap room should be taken away are really out of touch.
    This has nothing to do with the Colts, it is about Irsay. Just as Lavon Brazill being suspended had nothing to do with the Colts cheating or anything on the field.
    To take away picks hurts the entire franchise for something that had nothing to do with the employees of that franchise.
    Irsay’s punishment was worse than any first-time offending player. Does 500k make a dent in his pocket? No.
    But the system isnt set up to take a % of somebody’s salary, just a certain number.
    It’s done and over with now. He got what he deserved, taking him away from his team for even 1 game would kill this guy, he is as connected as any owner could ever be. So 6 games is really a huge deal to him.
    Personally, I thought he should get 8 games (and I’m a season ticket holder) so I really think what he got was deserving and it will affect him. AND he is suspended from Twitter, we know that kills him, too.

  31. pittsteelers101 says: Sep 2, 2014 10:03 PM

    How come David Diehl wasn’t suspended or fined when he was driving drunk in the city and crashed into parked cars?

  32. theheyseed says: Sep 2, 2014 10:12 PM

    Well Irsay is not allowed to use social media, but he seems to have a squad of Trolls that are hard at work defending him already. We can see you.

  33. gatorjr says: Sep 2, 2014 10:20 PM

    Should the rich drunk spend the suspension in prison or jail along with the fine?

  34. texansdan says: Sep 2, 2014 10:24 PM

    I’m not sure “higher standard” is the right headline to use here…

  35. thetooloftools says: Sep 2, 2014 10:28 PM

    Welker was just pure stupid. I cannot feel sorry for him.

  36. macbull says: Sep 2, 2014 10:41 PM

    Josh Gordon gets ripped for a year’s wages and unable to play for being 1 nanogram/ml over the NFL’s very outdated limit of 15 ng/ml.

    Had Gordon been a member of our armed forces, there would be no violation…

    Had Gordon been a member of a Major League Baseball team, there would be no violation…

    Had Gordon been a member of the United States Olympic team, you guessed it, NO VIOLATION.

    But, because Gordon’s “A” sample tested 1 nanogram/ml over the limit of the (very outdated) level of 15.0 ng/ml, Josh Gordon is given the maximum allowed by the NFL thanks to Mr Goodell and his application of NFL rules.

    First the Ravens and Ray Rice get a huge favor from Roger Goodell…then the Colts owner gets a favor by his good bud, Roger. In both cases, Roger attempted to convince the public into thinking that he was tough on Ray Rice and now he tries to convince us that he’s being tough on Irsay.

    Roger Goodell does have his favorites…and never let it be said that Roger does not take care of his buddies.

  37. montrealraider says: Sep 2, 2014 10:43 PM

    jimmy is getting a vacation lol

  38. mrlaloosh says: Sep 2, 2014 10:57 PM

    500thousand is in the wheel well of his limo.

  39. j0esixpack says: Sep 2, 2014 10:59 PM

    Hit him where it hurts – take away his Twitter account so the BILLIONAIRE can’t pat himself on the back for making pocket change donations

    Actually seeing as he admits/boasts he routinely walks around with $30k in his pockets, $10k is a slap on the pinky finger

    $500k is basically 2 weeks of his pocket change

    Literally

  40. bigjdve says: Sep 2, 2014 11:13 PM

    What exactly is it that you all want?

    The complaint was that he wouldn’t have anything done to him. So he was suspended for 6 games, a hefty fine, and can’t access social media with regard to the NFL.

    First – 500k is alot of money, whether it is to Irsay or isn’t – is not relevant. It is the Max penalty under the NFL guidelines – not CBA. This not only protects the owners, but the coaches, executives, and players by capping fines.

    Second, he was suspended for longer than any other person has been for a FIRST offense. It doesn’t matter what he did or didn’t do in the past, as those transgressions weren’t deemed to be detrimental. Also there was a different commissioner. People keep wanting to compare Gordon’s suspension or other players suspensions, they aren’t comparable.

    1. Gordon this was his 3rd or 4th offense. Just last year he was suspended with his sentence shortened. Why if he did the same thing again would you think that he wouldn’t get suspended and why would you think it would get reduced after he has already proven that he didn’t take the previous mercy seriously.

    2. Owners and players aren’t the same no matter how much you want them to be. Owners own the organizations, players work for the organizations. So suspensions will never seem to be the same, I mean how long of a suspension would make you think that he wasn’t getting off easy? Does 6 games or 12 games make a difference? With the fine – the owner doesn’t get paid a specific salary, he takes a portion of the teams profits. So penalizing the team isn’t fair, because they weren’t involved – more to the point you can’t penalize an owner’s salary because he doesn’t have one. And from a legal standpoint, you can’t really give an open ended fine, and you have no idea what he would make, so you can’t really give a comparable fine.

    Something to remember is that Gordon’s loss of money is less than the same suspension would cost a player such as Peyton Manning. So even with players the fines are not the same when talking about lost pay.

  41. pats3rings says: Sep 2, 2014 11:15 PM

    Haha, I love how people blame Goodell….. Irsay is an NFL owner, he is one of Goodell employers, what more is Goodell suppose to do here?

    Compare the Irsay situation to Josh Gordon if it makes you feel better but the reality is it’s apples to oranges.

  42. letmesetyoustraight says: Sep 2, 2014 11:50 PM

    OWNER Irsay fine = 0.5 mill
    COACH Payton fine = 5.0+ mill

    Sounds fair and balanced to me.

  43. DocHoliday says: Sep 3, 2014 12:11 AM

    this is a two fold botch job. on one hand, $500k is nothing to this guy, while 6 games is an insane suspension for a non player in such a short pro season.

  44. bowsi says: Sep 3, 2014 12:45 AM

    During the next round of CBA talks I can see the players taking a united stand on this issue. Billionaires max fine 500K and 6 games with full pay, millionaires max fine 50K and ? games with full pay??? If you ever read any of Irsay’s twitter posts (which are posted on this site lots) you gotta know something’s wrong with the guy, old money just doesn’t act this way. His actions are hurting this league, hopefully there’s more going on behind the scene cause this certainly is not addressing the problem.

  45. dbfan4ever says: Sep 3, 2014 2:22 AM

    Goodell can’t be too heavy-handed afterall he works for the owners

  46. canmannac says: Sep 3, 2014 3:36 AM

    These fools who think the fine is enough or that the owner does nothing are just totally misinformed. I I am sure the entire organizations has a seizure each time Irsay twitters something slighty negative…. And as written above Sean Payton lost a wad of money when suspended for the year, for something not illegal in the court of law.
    Best way to keep fools in line, lose some cap space, a draft pick or two, some serious cash, ie 1 mil for each game suspended, maybe even blackout your games locally too.
    Irsay is the Colts, like Jones is the Cowboys. Get it straight. Hit them hard and hurt them as much as possible if you are interested in setting an example.

  47. chapnastier says: Sep 3, 2014 5:44 AM

    You can go ahead and remove the “sort of” snark at the end of the headline. He was held above and beyond the standards that a player would be held to. The funny thing is, owners shouldn’t be held to the same standards as players, they are the employers. They are free to make as many dumb decisions as they please. Even Donald Sterling had the right to be a racist in the privacy of his own home. Doesn’t make it right, of course.

  48. emsamford says: Sep 3, 2014 6:06 AM

    He was caught (not pulled over) passed out, sitting still in the middle of the street. He had a SACK of prescription drugs (NOT HIS PRESCRIPTIONS) in the car. That’s “intent to distribute”! Anyone else would have gotten automatic jail time. In addition to that, a first offense OWI/DUI in Indiana requires 60 days to 1 year in jail. His punishment was what—overnight in jail? How do you come to a settlement with the law instead of automatic jail time? How do you avoid “intent to distribute” charges? The NFL “suspended” him for 6 games and fined him $500,000. So he has to watch on TV, and he probably has $500,000 pocket change. UNBELIEVABLE! Rice was suspended for 2 games and fined $58,000—-a total of $558,000, for getting into a fight with his now wife–and suspended 2 games, which for a running back is severe. A player caught with a “sack full of drugs” would have probably been suspended for LIFE! And “owners are held to a higher standard”? Not hardly!!!!!!!!

  49. thelastpieceofcheese says: Sep 3, 2014 8:12 AM

    People want to punish the team with draft picks, Colts players declared free agents and salary cap restrictions for at least five years because this will mean less fans at the stadium = less parking and concessions = less money for Irsay.

  50. idpfantasyfootball says: Sep 3, 2014 8:14 AM

    Suspension with pay…. isn’t that really called ‘administrative leave’ ?

  51. newtoallthis23 says: Sep 3, 2014 8:39 AM

    There are 2 reason why you punish someone. One, to punish them and two to deter others from doing the same. Question, does this accomplish that? I personally don’t think so. Where are the mandatory drug tests that he should be undergoing? Idk if a player should have to go into the league substance abuse program after his first day, but hold the owner to a higher standard there.

  52. rl7911 says: Sep 3, 2014 9:05 AM

    First offense DUI is 0 games in the NFL, second offense 4 games. I’d say Irsay got a pretty fair punishment, and I can’t stand the drunken buffoon.

  53. gettingpwned says: Sep 3, 2014 10:11 AM

    Wow, biting the hand that feeds. Bold. And a very good article Florio.

  54. richkotitte says: Sep 3, 2014 10:40 AM

    I think he should have to suit up and be on the field for at least 50% of the total game snaps for the first 6 games or lose draft picks. He has the bravado and pain meds to handle it. It will be a harsh but fair lesson to him….

  55. emsamford says: Sep 3, 2014 10:40 AM

    And PLEASE, let’s not forget that THREE of the first six Colts games are AWAY games. So, he only misses THREE games out of his “Box”. Must be nice to be an NFL owner in Indiana.

  56. indytom87 says: Sep 3, 2014 10:58 AM

    So what happens when a co-owner, or one person that’s part of a whole consortium of owner’s break the law? Do the same rules apply?

  57. emsamford says: Sep 3, 2014 11:26 AM

    By the way, players are tested continuously after receiving drug charges. I gurantee you that he’s not going to be tested by the NFL for drugs in which he doesn’t have a prescription, in the future. THAT wasn’t part of the penalty! WHY NOT!!!

  58. pftcensor1 says: Sep 3, 2014 11:54 AM

    Seems strange to characterize and dismiss racist and hateful speech as simply … “inappropriate”…. SMH

  59. stormhaven123 says: Sep 3, 2014 12:08 PM

    They should have taken the team away from him. He is a pot head and a coke head. I know him personally. More women than anyone can count. His PR rep hides everything for him. Cops should check her out. She is his carrier.

  60. johnnyquick says: Sep 3, 2014 1:57 PM

    I’ve read numerous references that he had 27K on him. Why is this supposed to be bad? is there a law that limits how much $ you can carry?

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