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Goodell's Credibility Hinges On How He Handles Irsay's Arrest, Punishment
Published March 18, 2014
PLAYERS PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION: The AP's Charles Wilson noted current and former NFLers are "clearly watching the case with interest." Falcons WR Roddy White wrote on his Twitter feed, "I want to see what the NFL does about this Jim Irsay situation if a player loses a game check no matter the amount he should lose a game day. I'm guessing a million dollar fine will come which is nothing to a man that makes billions." White added, "I don't think Irsay is a bad guy I actually like him as an owner but it was a bad mistake" (AP, 3/17). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote Goodell is "swift when dealing with any legal problems by players, issuing suspensions and fines, and he should be at least that strict with one of the league’s 32 owners." It is "safe to assume White isn’t the only player watching what Goodell does next" (AJC.com, 3/17). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said if Goodell wants to "hit players all the time and you want to show that you are the law-and-order commissioner -- which has been your thing -- then you better hit him and you better hit him hard" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/17). CBSSports.com's Josh Katzowitz: “It is going to be on Roger Goodell to come down with a big penalty, and I think the players expect that, the players want that. If it is a player, all of a sudden there are huge penalties. If Goodell treats Irsay differently, there are going to be some problems” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 3/17).
TIME TO TAKE A STEP BACK: In Indianapolis, Stephen Holder notes the possibility that Irsay may be suspended "raises questions about how the franchise would be run in his absence." Irsay has stated in the past that his three daughters "are in line to inherit the team." Each "currently holds the title of vice chair/owner." Beyond them, Colts COO Pete Ward is "intimately involved in all aspects of the club and is one of Irsay's closest advisers." He has been with the team since '82. Actions such as player acquisitions "could be complicated by the absence of the owner, as major moves often require Irsay's approval." The Colts and GM Ryan Grigson would have to "account for that possibility if Irsay was unavailable for any reason" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/18). Also in Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes Irsay at this point "needs to temporarily abdicate control of the team" to either Pete Ward, his longtime right-hand man, or one of his daughters. He has got "more important business to take care of than worrying about the team's next free-agent acquisition" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/18).
TREATMENT SHOULD BE MANDATORY: USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes Goodell at the minimum needs to make sure going to rehab is an "ironclad condition attached to whatever fine and/or suspension" Irsay is given. Goodell should "act quickly," as the NFL has "taken a hit." Irsay nonetheless should be "held to a higher standard than players, as the league contends is the case when coaches and management figures violate the conduct policy" (USA TODAY, 3/18).