Indianapolis Colts officials have decided that the proceeds from their new 50-50 raffle from Monday’s home game will go toward local charities dealing with domestic violence.
The move comes as the NFL struggles against criticism that officials were too lenient with penalties levied against Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for a domestic-violence incident in February.
The Colts this year have instituted a raffle at home games for which fans can buy a ticket for $1. Half the money goes to the winner drawn at the game and the other half goes to a charity of the Colts’ choosing.
During the team’s first preseason home game, the Colts raised more than $32,000 from the raffle. That grew to more than $38,000 from the second preseason game. Half of those proceeds went to charity.
“We think we’ll raise more than [$38,000] for our first regular-season home game Monday,” said Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward.
Fans can purchase raffle tickets at kiosks and mobile sellers located around Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night, as well as in the American Family Insurance Touchdown Town, south parking lot, and Blue Crew tailgate lot.
In addition to the proceeds from the 50-50 raffle, the Colts had previously decided to donate $100,000 this year to the Julian Center, an Indianapolis organization which supports victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other life crises.
While Ward said there’s been no “blow back” from Colts sponsors and ticket holders this week, he added that team officials realize domestic violence is a topic of concern in the wake of the Ray Rice incident and related development this week.
A video was released by TMZ Sports on Monday showing Rice punching his girlfriend and knocking her unconscious in an elevator in Atlantic City.
Previously the league had suspended Rice for two games. Once the video was released, the league suspended him indefinitely and the Ravens cut him. NFL officials said they hadn’t seen the video before Monday.
On Wednesday, I suggested that the Colts and its owners—Jim Irsay and daughters Carlie, Casey and Kalen—could take a lead role in softening the impact of the controversy by making a strong statement against domestic violence. Thursday’s announcement makes it clear that’s what they’re doing.
“It’s certainly a cause at the forefront of people’s minds,” Ward said. “It’s a cause that needs to be addressed.”
In a joint statement issued by the Colts this morning, vice chairs/owners Carlie Irsay-Gordon, Casey Foyt and Kalen Irsay said: “Domestic violence continues to be one of the most significant threats to one of our countries most important treasures—our families. For many years, our family and the entire Colts organization have worked closely with several wonderful organizations focused on preventing abusive situations and helping women and children affected by domestic violence. As daughters, sisters, wives and mothers, we are committed to standing against domestic violence and supporting organizations like the Julian Center that are working tirelessly to provide shelter, resources and hope for families.”
It hasn’t been decided which organizations will get money from the Colts’ 50-50 raffle, Ward said, but several local organizations are being considered including Coburn Place and Sheltering Wings.
Despite the criticism aimed at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over his handling of the Ray Rice case and other domestic abuse incidents involving league players, Colts leaders appear to be standing behind Goodell.
Jim Irsay can’t address the matter directly because he’s not allowed to talk to team officials or the media during his current suspension, which ends after the Oct. 9 game.
Irsay was suspended for six games and fined $500,000 last month after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
“I’m forbidden to discuss anything with Mr. Irsay, but I can’t imagine he wouldn’t support the commissioner,” Ward said. “The Commissioner has gone on record as saying the league didn’t get it right the first time, and he has committed to get it right. The silver lining to this is the awareness of the issue of domestic violence is at an all-time high.”