Irsay arrest may bring NFL punishment, sharpen scrutiny on bowl bid

The drug-related arrest of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay could bring repercussions from the National Football League and might play a factor in the city's bid for the 2018 Super Bowl.

Irsay was arrested near his home in Carmel late Sunday night and is being held on preliminary charges of possession of a controlled substance and driving while intoxicated.

Carmel police say Irsay was pulled over at 11:41 p.m. in the 13000 block of Horseferry Road for driving at a slow rate of speed, stopping in the roadway, and failing to signal a turn. Police said he failed several field-sobriety tests.

"During the inventory of Irsay’s vehicle, multiple prescription drugs were discovered in pill bottles," but the drugs didn't match the labels on the bottles, the police report said.

Irsay, 54, is being held on $22,500 bond in Hamilton County Jail in Noblesville and has a bond hearing set for 1:30 p.m.

The arrest puts Irsay in danger of discipline from the National Football League and could have an impact on the 2018 Super Bowl bid.

Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans will be giving presentations to the league’s 32 owners in May in Atlanta for the right to host the big game.

An NFL spokesman declined to speculate on whether the arrest would hurt Indianapolis' chances.

“The 32 teams vote for the Super Bowl host based on which site they believe puts forth the best bid,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail to IBJ.

But a source close to several team owners and NFL executives in New York said Irsay’s arrest “will definitely be fresh in league officials’ minds” when they receive written bids from the three cities April 1. League officials will work with the three cities to improve their initial bids before the owners get final written and oral bids in May.

The Indiana Sports Corp. is heading up the city’s bid.

“Jim Irsay has created one of the best franchises in the NFL. He and the franchise have made immeasurable contributions to the City of Indianapolis and State of Indiana,” Indiana Sports Corp. CEO Allison Melangton said in a prepared statement Monday morning. “We don't have any detailed information about the incident and it would not be appropriate to comment on this further.”

Melangton was CEO for Indianapolis’ 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee.

McCarthy said Irsay is subject to discipline due to his latest arrest, but declined to speculate on the punishment.

“Everyone associated with the NFL is subject to the personal conduct policy,” McCarthy said in the e-mail.

Irsay could be subject to discipline even if he's found not guilty.

“It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime,” the NFL’s conduct policy states. “Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful.”

The NFL’s conduct policy also states: “Apart from any disciplinary action, persons arrested, charged or otherwise appearing to have engaged in conduct prohibited under this policy generally will be required to undergo a formal clinical evaluation. Based on the results of that evaluation, the person may be encouraged or required to participate in an education program, counseling or other treatment deemed appropriate by health professionals."

Other team executives have been disciplined for driving while intoxicated in recent years, including Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand.

Lewand was suspended 30 days and fined $100,000. The suspension later was reduced to 21 days.

Irsay has acknowledged problems with drug and alcohol use in the past, including an addiction to pain killers more than 10 years ago. However, he tweeted Oct. 21 that he hadn't had a drink in 15 years.

Irsay's wife, Meg, filed for divorce in November after a 33-year marriage.

Forbes magazine this month ranked Irsay as the 1,029th richest man in the world with a net worth of $1.6 billion.

"We are gathering information at this time regarding last night's incident involving Jim Irsay," the Colts said Monday in a prepared statement. "The team will issue additional statements when the facts are sorted and we are aware of the next steps to this process. Many fans have reached out to express their concern and we appreciate their support."


Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.