Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay’s punishment is in; and it’s laughable.
Irsay will be banned from the first six games of the Colts’ season and fined $500,000. Irsay plead guilty to misdemeanor DUI Tuesday afternoon for his actions in March that included driving while intoxicated and the possession of a duffle bag filled with prescription pills and nearly $30,000 in cash. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to his credit, acted quickly. Goodell might have considered taking a little more time as he doled out the definition of a slap on the wrist. Goodell again found himself in an impossible position. He was in charge of punishing one of his bosses for something — a DUI — the entire league he presides over can’t seem to avoid, but suspending an owner is completely and utterly useless.
The issue with owner suspensions is they really don’t have any effect on anyone — literally no one. Irsay can’t sit in a suite to watch games in person. He’ll have to watch from a mansion instead. Player suspensions are typically without pay, but there’s no way to enforce that on an owner. Yeah, Irsay’s fine is the most allowed under the current CBA, but why is it so low? If an owner can’t be suspended without pay, shouldn’t fines be higher?
For example, Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension is without pay and will cost him nearly $2.5 million — five times more than the hit Irsay’s bank account will take. That makes total sense considering the entire contract Smith signed is worth $14.3 million and Irsay’s net worth sits at an estimated $1.6 billion. Wait, what?
Here’s an idea: Considering how useless owner suspension has proven to be, the maximum fine Goodell can give owners is ridiculous. It needs to be raised to match the immense wealth of the owners being punished. Instead of simply suspending owners, the NFL should consider reworking the system to have those under the owner’s pay earn higher salaries and have income the owner would obtain from games go to charitable foundations of their choice while the owner is suspended.
The first possible solution makes complete sense and is actually feasible. The second is less so, but the fact of the matter is the players who actually risk their health to make guys like Irsay their billions should not take exponentially bigger hits for similar crimes.
Anthony F. Irwin is an NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA Football contributor for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Send him an email at Anthony.F.Irwin@gmail.com.