All eyes are on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell now that Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in his impaired driving case. With Josh Gordon’s one-year suspension for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy and Ray Rice’s two-game suspension for domestic violence freshly on the minds of NFL players and fans, Goodell will be given the daunting task of finding an appropriate punishment for Irsay.
The Colts owner was arrested and charged with DWI and four felony counts for possession of a controlled substance on March 16. Several pill bottles that contained oxycodone and hydrocodone were reportedly found in Irsay’s vehicle the night he was arrested.
With a plea deal reached, Irsay will stand trial on Oct. 30. Whether he is found guilty and ordered to serve a jail sentence and/or probation or somehow freed to go, Goodell still must send down a punishment that sends a message that owners will be treated no differently when it comes to violating rules and embarrassing the NFL in the public eye.
“If protecting the shield is the most important thing, and owners are the ones most responsible for the league’s future, the owners have to be held to a higher standard,” Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Eric Winston said, according to Sports Illustrated. “So I don’t understand how we can be talking about comparing the punishment of a player to what the league might do to an owner. Owners should be held to the highest of standards. And I can tell you, players are watching. A lot of players are watching. This has been on players’ minds for quite a while.”
Winston certainly has a point that owners should be held to a higher standard than players are. The reason being is because they are supposed to send a positive message to everyone under their employment. If the owners are running rampant then the league turns into a circus. Goodell knows this, which is why he must choose the punishment very carefully to ensure no owner makes the same foolish mistakes that Irsay did.