Jim Irsay

Dateline: Sun 30 Mar 2014

"How can you tell if an addict is lying?"

"Her lips are moving."

From 'Gia,' the movie, about a supermodel and drug addict.

In 2002, when Jim Irsay's problems with drugs first became public knowledge, I argued that, since he had entered into a rehab program, he had every right to keep running the Colts, once he was well and active in a 12-step program.

This time I am less inclined to believe that -- or rather, I am less inclined to believe that he won't relapse again and that the Colts franchise would not be well-served by having him at the helm or in any leadership capacity.

After reading these past couple weeks about Irsay's struggles with substance abuse, dating back publcly to 2002, we now all know he apparently has fallen off the wagon many times. Also, taking into account the experiences of a friend who is an addict, it seems that recovery will be very, very difficult for him --- and moreso if he is in the limelight.

We all know all the mantras: a day at a time, surrender, let go and let god. We also know, if we have read any of the literature on addiction and alcoholism, that it is an insidious disease in which relapse is sadly common if not downright expected.

Perhaps the best thing for Irsay would be to be released of the persona that makes him a football master of the universe and allowed to be simply a private human being.

But then, because he's an addict, that may not be possible...the nature of addiction is gradiositiy of personality. Hence journalists and fans have spoken recently with fondness for Irsay's pesona. He is not a buttoned-down type of guy, but a guy who lets his shirttails hang out -- when in fact, he needs to be buttoned-down and disciplined. In his case and in the case of other addicts, his personality, at least the gradiose aspects of it, are the very basis of his downfall. Some fans love him because of his ridiculous tweets and his generosity, some of which is hidden but much of which is public. My argument is that Jim Irsay needs to be a little less-than his egotistical self -- in other words, he is in dire need of humility.

Several letters to the editor of the Star have argued that Irsay should be left alone, that it's nobody's business that he was carrying $29k when he was found driving erratically in Carmel. The argument is that he is a suffering human being, an addict, and that he deserves privacy and respect as he struggles to conquer or at least control his demons.

Unfortunately, Irsay has been his own worst enemy n the publicity department -- he likes the sound of his own voice. And the fact that he is a public figure means, in theory, that he is fair game, especially since his addiction is potentially harmful to others as well as himself. 

Irsay is clearly not a happy man. He and his ex-wife were separated 10 years before their divorce last fall. He may not have true friends in his inner circle so much as enablers.

Yes, I agree we should give the man privacy to work through the program once again. The real question then, is this: once he is sober, or straight, will he choose a path of privacy and quiet in order to remain well, or will he return to his drama-seeking, empty, sad behavior?

Only Irsay can answer that. Wishing him well, and that he finds the right answer for survival.



jersey [unverified] said:

Well said. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a billionaire addict? I have been sadly amused at all the local media speculation. I know enough to know that only he knows if he has "bottomed out"-and he may very well be deceiving himself. Again, unless you are a billionaire addict, you have no idea.

2014-03-30 20:30:46

hendy [Member] said:

There are plenty of decent programs for those that need to deal closely with addicts, because it's not easy to do so. A good friend of mine is an alcoholic. He'll always be one, just like I'll always be a smoker, but it's been three+ years since I kicked the butts.

This was a guy raised as a the son of rich but contentious parents. He has about one hard asset in his life, a famous football team, one where he fired its best player.

It's no fun to be Jim Irsay, or around him. You're correct to admonish him to seek the right answer for survival, but he's just a poster boy right now; none of us knows the status of the rest of the owners.... or who might have been caught doing what. Irsay didn't show amazing judgment. But I'm not judging him. He has his own fish to fry, just like the rest of us. At one time, I'd have said differently, but emblematic or not, he's a joe or jane just like the rest of us and deserves forgiveness. At some point, he loses his veracity completely, a sad day if it happens. Until then, he's just this peculiar dude in Carmel, so far as I'm concerned. The indictment of the NFL by recent media observations is still another story of competitiveness gone berserk. A story for a different time.

2014-03-30 22:07:04

Matt Stone [unverified] said:

I don't read the LTTE anymore online since those count as one of the free news articles per month. But I kind of wonder how many of those are a PR push by Irsay, either directly or indirectly, to make this kind of go away.

Charges still haven't been filed against him. I wonder if an attorney could shed some light on how often charges typically take to be officially filed or an investigation dropped after an arrest and preliminary charges are filed.

2014-03-31 08:59:34

gene fisk [unverified] said:

Ruth, this makes 2 posts in a row where I question your logic. As long as Irsay drives safely, who cares how he conducts his business? As long as people aren't shooting up schools, who cares if licensed gun owners have guns locked in their cars?

2014-04-03 18:22:21

ruthholl [Member] said:

But Gene, Irsay was not driving safely. That is why he was stopped by police. I hear your Libertarian views coming through. On the gun issue: in a perfect world, sure. But on school parking lots, better safe than sorry. We can't have open package liquor in vehicles in Indiana, but we can have licensed guns on school parking lots? But thank you for reading and commenting.

2014-04-06 16:17:54

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