The NFL finally levied a punishment against Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, nearly six months after Irsay was arrested for driving while intoxicated, with oxycodone and hydrocodone in his possession. Ever since then, the media and NFLPA representatives have gone on a rampage regarding your league's inability or unwillingness to punish one of its owners. Five months of waiting and talking and the day of judgment has finally come, but only after Irsay himself decided to plead guilty to the crimes he was charged with. He was given one year's probation, his driver's license revoked for a year and he's to submit to a monthly drug test. Within hours you hit him with a six game suspension and a $500,000 fine.
"I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players," Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to Irsay. "We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard."
Technically, Jim Irsay and the NFL owners are NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's boss. Thus, you guys are in effect levying a fine against your own boss. So, while we don't envy you in that endeavor, fair is fair. Also, it wouldn’t be the first time the NFL has suspended one of its owners. Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was given a year-long ban and a $1 million fine after pleading guilty to extortion in 1999. So why not take off the kiddie gloves and lower a similar boom on Irsay?
Given the criticisms that have been made against the NFL's seemingly arbitrary way of punishing its players, and the heavy handed-ness of some of the fines, Irsay's punishment isn't much of a punishment at all. For example, he has been suspended six games. What difference does it make that the owner of a team will not be allowed to attend six games? Not that big of a deal seeing as though he plays no role in team strategy or on the field play. In addition, unlike the players, Irsay isn't paid on a game-to-game basis either so his absence will not effect him financially. Oh, he's not going to be able to sit up in his luxury box and watch games? Okay, he can simply enjoy it on his gazillion inch screen TV in the luxury of his own home.
Another portion of the so-called punishment is the $500,000 fine. Really? What is a half million to a man who’s worth $1.7 billion? I'm not saying you should have hit him with an ignorant nine-digit fine, but seven figures would have done the trick. Isn't the idea of a monetary fine to make the sting strong enough to persuade one to not attempt an offense again? While $500,000 would hurt the wallet of even top-tier NFL players, it provides little more than an itch to someone whose pockets are as deep as Irsay's. Lastly, the NFL has said that Irsay can't tweet about the NFL in general, and the Colts in particular, during his suspension. Oh, so you've given a 55-year-old man a social media ban? Oh, how you wield the hammer of justice again, NFL. Ray Rice and the Nerf Hammer of the NFL
A primary punishment levied against players who run afoul of a multitude of NFL policies is the loss of funds via fines and seclusion from the game many of them have been playing since they were small children. By comparison, the suspension of a team owner should possess a similar sting, should it not? What would sting an owner more than reducing his team's ability to improve? That's exactly what would have happened if the NFL would have taken away draft picks, which is what many have decreed should have happened. You have done it before, so the precedent exists. But that didn’t happen and the punishment you bestowed on Jim Irsay does nothing to assuage player concerns of a plantation mindset of exploitation and fraternal protectionism being the true life blood of the NFL.
Ask Bob Kraft about "Spygate" and how he felt when they lost their first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. I bet you they won't be taping anyone again.