INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s probably a toss-up in deciding which was quicker: Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay's escape from the media by going through an underground tunnel at the Hamilton County courthouse or NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's announcement of Irsay's fine and suspension.
Goodell needed only about three hours after Irsay pleaded guilty to impaired driving to announce that the owner would be suspended for six games and fined $500,000 for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.
The Colts have been preparing for this moment since Irsay was arrested back in the middle of March. They knew Irsay wasn’t going to get off with just a slap on the wrist from Goodell, because that would cause an uproar from players around league.
The franchise ran fine while Irsay, who later admitted he still had a little hand in things, was getting rehabilitation treatment following his arrest. General manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano handled things on the football side. Colts chief operating officer Pete Ward, who is in his 34th year with the franchise, dealt with the business side of things. Irsay’s oldest daughter, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, had the final say on team decisions.
It'll continue to be run that way -- minus the little bit of dabbling by Irsay -- during his suspension.
“Nothing’s going to change,” Grigson said in an interview with Indianapolis radio station WFNI 1070 AM. “We’ve been down this road before when he was away. Nothing’s going to change. We’ve had plenty of adversity around here. This is another one we have to overcome.”
The suspension will sting Irsay more than it stings his employees.
Anybody who has been around Jim Irsay knows his life is football. It goes all the way back to when he was a kid and his father, Robert Irsay, owned the Colts.
Jim Irsay isn’t one of those owners who simply shows up on game day and hangs out in a suite eating fancy food and sipping exotic beverages. The one-time general manager is a very hands-on owner. He’s a regular at the team’s facility during the week, he constantly talks to Grigson and Pagano, and he’s always inside the locker room after games. Irsay was given the game ball after the Colts beat the Denver Broncos in Week 7 last season.
None of that will happen -- not for six weeks, at least.
Starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Irsay is not permitted in the team’s facility. No practice. No games. He cannot represent the team at any league meetings. No interviews. And no interaction on social media.
No Twitter for Irsay?
You would think Goodell is being petty like a father disciplining his son, but Irsay gives Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban a run for his money when it comes to owners interacting on Twitter.
Irsay routinely holds contests on Twitter that allow fans to win money and tickets to games.
And who can forget about Irsay’s middle-of-the-night tweets the week of the Denver game last season?
So for six weeks, Irsay will be relegated to sitting on his hands at home, or perhaps in some tropical location, keeping an eye on his team from a distance while he counts the days down until he can return to the franchise he owns.
That in itself is punishment enough for him.