Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was suspended for six games and fined $500,000 after he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired.
The fine is the maximum permitted under league rules, the National Football League said, citing a violation of its personal conduct policy. The 55-year-old Irsay will be eligible to return to the team following the Colts’ Oct. 9 game against the Houston Texans.
“I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said today in a letter to Irsay, which was included in the e-mail. “We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard.”
Irsay apologized today in a statement, saying he is taking responsibility for the “mistake” he made in March.
“I am committed to do everything in my power to turn this whole experience into a positive event for myself, my family and the community,” he said. “In retrospect, I now know that the incident opened my eyes to issues in my life that needed addressing and helped put me on the path to regain my health.”
The NFL’s announcement comes five days after Goodell said in a letter to owners that he was enhancing the league’s punishment for domestic violence and sexual assault. As part of that letter, Goodell said he was “working to strengthen” the league’s discipline for driving while impaired.
Irsay in March was arrested in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel on suspicion of intoxicated driving and possession of a controlled substance. Today he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor of impaired driving, according to ESPN, which said his toxicology report revealed that he had two different painkillers and an anxiety drug in his system at the time of the arrest.
During his suspension from the league, which begins tomorrow at 5 p.m. New York time, Irsay won’t be allowed at the club’s facilities, cannot attend practice or games and cannot represent the team at league meetings, according to the release. He also cannot conduct interviews or engage in social media regarding team or league matters. He will receive ongoing treatment, counseling and testing.
Before Irsay’s punishment, the NFL received criticism for its disciplinary process. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended two games following a physical altercation with his then-fiancee, while Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon was suspended the entire year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.