Ryan Clark: Handling of Irsay shows hypocrisy of the NFL


At the NFL meetings in Atlanta this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he was holding off on any discipline for Colts owner Jim Irsay “until we have more information and more facts.” 

Irsay was arrested on charges of vehicle while intoxicated and felony possession of a controlled substance earlier this year and spent some time in rehab before returning to work this week to play a role in Indianapolis’ unsuccessful bid for Super Bowl LII. In his frequent offseason role as an ESPN talking head, Redskins safety Ryan Clark criticized Goodell and the league for not acting to discipline Irsay already. 

Clark pointed to Goodell’s decision to suspend Clark’s former Steelers teammate Ben Roethlisberger in 2010 when Roethlisberger was neither charged with a crime nor arrested after being accused of sexual assault. Clark said allowing Irsay to be part of this week’s meetings “shows the hypocrisy of the NFL and also Roger Goodell in the way that he deals with players and the way he deals for the people he works for.”

“So when has having enough information been what Roger Goodell waits for to make these decisions?” Clark said on “First Take.” “When does a charge necessarily warrant the penalty? We’ve seen in so many cases, Roger Goodell be judge and jury when it comes to players,” Clark said. “So here we have Jim Irsay, a guy, an owner, who has history of substance abuse, who’s found in a car with over $29K and prescription drugs that weren’t in his name, pulled over for driving under the influence, and now we’re saying we need more information? What more information do we need than these aren’t your prescription pills? You’re obviously under the influence. You have $29k. There would be no questions asked if this was a player.”

The longer the league takes to deal with the Irsay situation, the more people are likely to come around to Clark’s view that there’s a different standard for owners even though the league has said Irsay is eligible for discipline.

118 responses to “Ryan Clark: Handling of Irsay shows hypocrisy of the NFL

  1. And who is surprised??? Why does it even come up as an issue. Goodell is a disgrace of a commissioner, Irsay–a hopeless addict with enough money to get out of anything. Players? Well, if you are down on the depth chart, you are suspended for farting too loud. A name star? Murder, rape, what have you? Most likely you are welcome back with open arms. It’s ok, no sane parent would ever tell their kids to look up to any of these folks. There are lots of good guys in the NFL, most–but they get zero press generally–and its because thats what we want. Why complain? One would get better results complaining about the weather.

  2. He’s right, and Goodell is showing what a friggin fraud he is by being a blatant hypocrite with this, And I’m neither a supporter of Big Ben nor the Stillers.

  3. Probably the first and last time that I would agree with Ryan Clark. Spot on brother!!

  4. Can’t discipline the boss, bro. That’s how you become an ex-employee. Different rules for the working class.
    Remember the Golden Rule: “He That Has the Gold, Makes the Rules “.

  5. Sometimes Ryan Clark talks a bunch of nonsense, but this time I would have to agree with him 100%.

  6. Irsay certainly went about his business at the Owner’s Meeting— apparently without any issue.

    Perhaps the commissioner could force an owner to sit-out of those meetings…. Abstain him from voting while Felony charges are pending?.. It would make sense to me that a guy like Irsay should be removed from voting under such circumstance.

  7. Clark is totally right. In my opinion though the way the league is handling Irsay is the way it should have always been handled. Innocent until proven guilty. The league doesn’t seem to care about that when its the players though.

  8. It’s pretty simple: Goodell works for the owners, not the players.

  9. Clark is right….Goodell is very much a hypocrite. He needs more “information and facts” first. You mean like Spygate Roger? Collect the facts, destroy the evidence, and levy a big fine to hope nobody suspects anything fishy?…Sounds like a plane to me.

  10. It’s a fair and valid point, but at the end of the day the Commissioner works for the owners and they will decide how to deal with their own.

  11. I’m not part of the Goodell fan club by any means but Roethlisberger had other incidents prior to the one that got him suspended and those combined are actually what lead to him being suspended.

    And the league waits typically waits for the court processes to play out all the time when it comes to players.

    Has Aldon Smith been suspended yet? No because the league is waiting to see how things played out. In fact he didn’t get suspended last season for his DUI because he did go to rehab.

    If Irsay gets off scott free I’ll buy the case for hypocrisy but for now Clark has some pretty selective memory.

  12. Right on the money, Ryan.

    Goodell is very inconsistent. Irsay should be gone, forced to sell the franchise. Guy is scum.

  13. I like when Ryan speaks out on these type of issues. However, the problem Steelers fans had was all the in-season talk that just drove you nuts.

  14. This is another example of why objective standards are important. We may not always like it but when people are treated the same or “equal” under the law we’re generally okay with it.

  15. First, no wonder Isray’s teenage twitter and dingy comments he’s made. I honestly had a gut feeling he was on something with iratic behavior.
    Ryan Clark is correct! Discipline the fool already! Cmon, drugs? Any player would have been dealt with the first week of arrest. If he’s not disciplined enough, Goodell needs to be stripped of all power. One guy can not be judge, jury and executioner.

  16. Looks like they’re waiting on the Ray Rice situation to resolve before they hand out punishment. Not sure you can say the situations are being handled all that differently.

  17. Goodell works for Irsay…End of story.. Why is this is hard to understand?

  18. Its not hypocrisy at all. Owners are not the same as players. Its pretty simple. The NFL should just come out and say that.

  19. Clark couldn’t be more wrong.

    This has nothing to do with owner vs. Player treatment!

    This is about white man vs black man! Goodell is a racist! Just ask Richard Sherman! He’ll tell you!

    But seriously, with all the precedence goodell has set in the last few years, it’s inexcusable that Irsay hasn’t been punished by the league.

  20. Goodell works for the Owners, not the players

    Because of this, I do not know why Ryan Clark expects Goodell to treat the owners and players the same.

    Goodell will be swift to discipline an owner at the same time that DeMaurice Smith is swift to discipline a player.

  21. I agree completely and would argue that the owners should be held to higher standard than the players. Every minute he drags his feet on this Goodell is making it worse and its already bad. Real bad.

  22. Here we go again, another player trying to tell the league how it should run. When will this guys get the fact that they are employees and should focus on their jobs and let management take care of itself

  23. Not just Irsay but also Cleveland’s owner who scammed 10s of millions of dollars from his Pilot Flying J customers. What excuse will Goodell make for him when the Feds put him in jail for ten years or so?

  24. If the players don’t like the way the league is run, go to Canada. Of course you won’t be overpaid there as much as they are here

  25. I’m not part of the Goodell fan club by any means but Roethlisberger had other incidents prior to the one that got him suspended and those combined are actually what lead to him being suspended.

    Do tell the “other” incidents Ben had? Do you have secret info…..no you don’t. He had two accusers and no convictions. Don’t let hate get in the way of the facts. Think before you hit submit.

    Roger is also taking his time with his favorite team the Ravens on elevator Ray Rice.

  26. Ryan Clark is 120% correct.

    All the “he works for Irsay”, get a clue. Doesn’t Adam Silver work for that POS Donald Sterling? I know these are very different issues but he acted quickly and the player’s rallied around the decision and he earned their respect. Goodell has no clue how to “act decisively” and his claim that he’s “gathering facts” is more of his bull. Kind of like all that “evidence” he accumulated during “Bountygate”??

    Please. He’s a complete joke. And this is just one more wedge driven between he and the players.

  27. I have said it once, twice and this is final word on this matter, “Goodell is blind to Justice…..all he sees is $$$$$$$$

  28. How many players have been suspended for driving drunk prior to having the case heard? Comparing it to Roethlisberger is ridiculous as it was a totally different type of crime.

  29. the owners sign his 40 million a year paycheck Ryan..you players just enable them

  30. Clark is either totally ignorant or totally naive. Rothlisberger & other players are employees. Irsay is an OWNER. The NFL – like life – is not fair, period

  31. No discipline for Pete Carrol or Chip Kelly for their Ncaa violation but you suspend Terrel Pryor for 6 games for selling his jersey in College , There is a Double standard in the way commissioner deal with Players , Coaches and Owners ..

  32. For those people using the Rothlisberger argument, let’s not forget that suspension for Ben happened on the 2nd accusation within a year.

    He was accused of committing the crime that he had been accused and settled with the prior year. So if we want to be fair, Ben wasn’t suspended for the 1st offense.

  33. Not sure why this surprises anyone. After seeing the collusion against the redskins and cowboys nothing surprises me anymore. The owners get to do whatever they want without consequence while everyone else is held to the upmost highest standards. Pure hypocrisy, period! Goodell is their little puppet and he would never do anything to hurt his relationship between him and one of his bosses. This is just days after him saying “Adam silver did the right thing” LOL apparently Goodell can only see when others are wrong unless it pertains to him, of course.

  34. Expect Clark and the ‘Skins to get 3 London games and 5 Thursday night games next season for this.

  35. another example of hypocrisy is players colluded to improve their earning potential when owners would be violating laws colluding to do the same.

  36. Shh! Quiet, Ryan. You might make Goodell mad and give him an excuse to fine the Skins another $36 million in salary cap. (Roger doesn’t have a problem dropping the hammer on owners he doesn’t like).

  37. So Jim gets pulled over for driving under 10 mph and having either a Valium, ambien, Xanax, or darvocet. Sounds like a lot of old people. At least Jim takes responsibility by owning up to his mistakes and does something about it. Jim was born to run the Colts Organization. No one gets more excited than Jim about new players coming in. He cares about his employees and the community. He gives anonymously without wanting recognition. The guy has heart, and it’s in the right place. There is no way in hell I would want anyone else owning the Colts.

  38. Clark does not know the difference between Business “owner” and a business “employee”.

  39. Previous Comment that hits the nail on the head:

    Goodell works for the Owners, not the players

    Because of this, I do not know why Ryan Clark expects Goodell to treat the owners and players the same.

    Goodell will be swift to discipline an owner at the same time that DeMaurice Smith is swift to discipline a player.

  40. The difficulty in disciplining Irsay is finding a suitable punishment. If a player gets fined $100k, what should a billionaire be fined? 50 mil? Unfortunately this is a situation where either the punishment fits the crime but the financial penalty is a drop in the bucket for a guy like Irsay, or you charge a percentage of earnings, which is inconsistent since player fines are calculated as lump sums. A difficult punishment to levy, for sure.

    Lots of super intelligent people commenting on this story, but no one offering an actual suggestion that could work…I’m sure Irsay would happily accept his $100k fine and/or 4 game suspension…

  41. Silly man, assuming Goodell and league is concerned about actual justice and fairness. It’s all about $$ first, appearances second, and anything else a distant third.

  42. The wait period to get a criminal forensic lab drug test result in Indiana is currently 8 months. Sad but true. We don’t like to spend money on “government” here in the Hoosier State, so sit back and relax Roger, it will a long time till Irsay ever sees the inside of a courtroom.

  43. i’ve always respected ryan clark. i’ve never respected the other two gentlemen involved in this story.

  44. I am taking a wait and see approach. It could be that he is waiting to see if there some level of intent to distribute charge. We don’t know yet.

    As long as the punishment fits the crime, that’s all I care about.

  45. Let’s see now. Does Commissioner GODdell want to bite one of the 44 million $$ hands that feeds him?

  46. Welcome to the real world, Ryan. I’m not being snarky, but you’ll find this pattern in pretty much every industry or company in the nation. That’s the way it goes: the guys on top who control the flow of cash operate on a different set of rules than the workers. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.

  47. Loved Ryan as a player and enjoying his segue into his new career. There’s no filter between his mind and his mouth. Hope he makes the Skins and then comes out strongly for the name change. That would make Dan Snyder crazy.

  48. Ray Rice and Aldon Smith have not yet been punished by the NFL despite being arrested, like Irsay. What am I missing Ryan Clark?

  49. I normally agree with Goodell but he’s screwed the pooch on this one.

    If he can suspend a head coach and GM, (Saints ring a bell?) he can surely have Irsay locked out of the Colts facility and Lucas Oil for a year. Make him watch games at home like most of us.

  50. An Owner is being treated diferently than a player.
    How and why does that surprise anyone?

  51. Why not hurt Irsay where it hurts most??

    Remove Colts next 3 1st round draft picks…may make him think really hard before he gets tanked again.

    Taking his money…does zero….Sure suspend him, and he’ll be on phone all day w/his staff.

  52. I’m glad to hear Clark speaking out about this.

    Don’t hold your breath expecting owners to be too tough on one of their own. The League will probably cook up some politically correct penalty, like service hours and money to some charity and maybe he’ll pay a fat fine. Maybe.

    Failure to penalize Irsay will make a mockery of the concept of “conduct detrimental to the league”. Gotta protect the Shield.

  53. Suspend this dude for 4 games just like a player would get before this looks really hypocritical.

    BTW – Suspension for an owner just means he watches the game from his 100,000 sq foot living room rather than his 20,000 sq foot box seats. But, still, it just looks bad to let him get off with nothing when players get slammed for much less.

  54. Question why don’t the owners,show some class and style,instead of waiting for Roger dodger,let him know that’ type of behavior …isn’t going to hunt,players &coachs come and go,owners keep counting their money even LOUSY ones!!!

  55. When you examine this closely Godell has not suspended anybody in the past couple years without getting the facts first and if things had to be adjudicated first they were.

    He is paying right now for what he did to Ben Rothlesburger early on in his tenure to wield a big stick, and display a clear rush to judgement. He will forever have to deal with the blow back due to the unfairness of that suspension.

  56. Ryan Clark doesn’t right the checks, pretty easy to understand. Double standard? Hell yes. Roger got 20m plus last year right? He’s got about 20m reasons not to suspend irsay

  57. has aldon smith been suspended yet? until he is suspended, irsay should have no punishment

  58. I believe that Clark maybe correct but I want to reserve making a final decision until I have more information……

  59. Jim Irsay got a VWI (Vehicle While Intoxicated):

    “Irsay was arrested on charges of vehicle while intoxicated and felony possession of a controlled substance earlier this…”

  60. Goodell is a puppet on a string. Were else can a guy make 45mil a year by making 32 people happy? Heads up football, player safety…..yea, right Roger. Pathetic Commissioner. Pete Rozell is rolling over in his grave.

  61. Meanwhile, goodell laughs at our comments while he makes 20+million annually. Jerk.

  62. this dude is an “owner” ? so what?

    if it were a player – there ought to be pitchforks and torches… but clearly: it’s not!

  63. Roethlisberger was guilty of bad taste and poor judgement. There never was any evidence of illegal activity, no arrest, no detention, no criminal accusation. One woman was clearly batty and admitted to trying to trap him into getting her pregnant. The other was so drunk she couldn’t remember anything at all as evidenced at the police interview.

    Not excusing that he allowed himself to be even in a position for accusation (like 90% of other athletes), but legally there was never anything there.

    Contrast that with Irsay and Rice, where there is definite evidence of criminal behavior that is intentionally being swept under the rug. If Roethlisberger’s bad taste is worthy of a four game suspension, Rice’s physical abuse caught on tape ought to be a year, and Irsay should face at least a large fine if not suspension from owner voting rights.

  64. He will punish Irsay. Not that it will matter…. No fine will be meaningful and no suspension will matter. There’s no way they punish the team for his behavior and take away picks. What ever the punishment it will have no impact.

  65. There is no double-standard. There are pro football players and there are pro football team owners. Ryan Clark and the rest of the players who are complaining should stay in their own lane or buy a team.

    I would not be surprised if Goodell decided to keep part or all of any punishment private with exception to disclosure the other 31 owners. That’s the way a pecking order works and we all deal with them every day of our lives in the real world. I’m sure people will thumbs down the hell out of this post but I’ve got a news flash for you:

    Life – is – not – fair.

    Don’t like the way Goodell operates? Quit.

    No one is making them play in the NFL. I think most NFL players are good guys but a larger number are just pissed off that they have a commissioner who holds them accountable for being men first and football players second. I would love to see any one of those guys find a job in the mainstream that tolerates a tenth of the b.s. they get into.

  66. Ryan knows what he is talking about. And by the way, Ben R. Has never been charged, other than by the press and gossipers, with a crime.

  67. He works for 32 owners, not 1500 players, who also work for the owners. In addition, there is a collective bargaining agreement that governs the behavior of the players, not the owners. That’s why it looks like a double standard. Also, Goodell shot his mouth off about the Sterling situation in the NBA and how Silver did the right thing banning the owner for life, for a little racial talk to a fake girlfriend, which isn’t even illegal. So now people expect the same out of him. Of course, he won’t actually do that himself because he does not have the backing of the other owners, and, while DUI is a high profile offense these days, it pales in comparison to the politically correct racial politics, and the fear the PC Gestapo causes. The way the NBA owners ran and hid was an embarrassing sellout of the 1st Amendment, as was sending Don Jones of the Miami Dolphins to re-education camp for expressing disapproval of the airing of the kiss between Sam and his BF.

  68. Clark should look up Leonard Little and humble himself. The commish is a high level PR guy, that is all. There are cases where players get away with all kinds of things and have 10 year careers. However this Irsay issue should have been dealt with better.

  69. “Ryan Clark doesn’t right the checks, pretty easy to understand. Double standard? Hell yes. Roger got 20m plus last year right? He’s got about 20m reasons not to suspend irsay”

    I heard closer to $45 MM but who’s counting

  70. Totally agree with Clark. Punishment should be ten times more then a players punishment. Use the militaries example. A DUI for an officer is career ending, a DUI for enlisted is far less, reduce in rank and a fine is the norm and not career ending unless the enlisted continues to make mistakes. NFL should make him sell the team, period!

  71. No Robert Mathis! Fertility drugs are NOT the same!!!

    You are enhancing your performance!!!

    Now here’s 3 shots Toradol mixed with some good Vicodin!

    Now get out there and win one for stumble bum Irsay!

  72. Did Ryan Clark retire? Why is he still on TV, doesn’t he have a season to prepare for?
    I know he wants to move to TV after his career is over but he already has a job that he should be concentrating on now.

  73. Rothlesburger had “incidents” prior to his issues that Clark references. If wasn’t out there sexually assaulting girls prior to this “incident” there wouldn’t have been a suspension. Clark is right that its not an equal system. Employer vs. employee never is. But to grasp onto that one Big Ben issue is idiotic.

  74. Goodell’s treatment of Roethlisberger will go down as the sleaziest, slimiest, scummiest treatment of a player ever by an NFL commissioner. Roethlisberger wasn’t even charged with anything, and as Clark correctly points as, Goodell didn’t care, and didn’t wait for any “facts” back then. He played judge and jury, and threw out punishment like cheap candy.

    But we see the double standard when it comes to one of Goodell’s own.

    Clark is absolutely spot on correct.

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