Jim Irsay: Billionaire Colt’s Owner and… Addict?
If you’re a football fan, Indianapolis Colt’s owner Jim Irsay’s name means three things – a bold and successful management strategy, an uneven but mostly winning record, and a troubled personal life.
That last part, his troubled personal life, is why most Americans know Jim Irsay. He’s in and out of the headlines for his private business. Arrests, addictions, affairs, and general bad behavior have become Irsay’s trademark.
While he’s admittedly made some mistakes, is it fair to criticize him in the way the media’s become accustomed to? I’m not so sure.
Jim Irsay’s been nothing but open about his struggles with addiction. In fact, earlier this year Irsay sat down with The Indianapolis Star and gave an incredibly raw and honest interview.
He’s quoted in The Indy Star as saying, “In some ways, (going through rehab) is my greatest moment. It takes courage to try and overcome the difficulties you have… The disease never sleeps so you have to be proactive when dealing with it. But the journey is great because it forced you to grow spiritually. There’s a lot of gratitude and spiritual growth.”
Jim Irsay’s History of Addiction & Arrests
Jim has a long and storied history as both an NFL franchise owner and a recreational drug user. Find a brief timeline below:
• 1972 – Jim’s father Robert acquires the Colts (then the Baltimore Colts)
• 1984 – Jim becomes general manager of the Colts
• 1995 – Jim’s name is discovered in the medical records of a “pill mill”
• 1997 – Robert Irsay dies and Jim becomes owner of the Indianapolis Colts
• 1998 – Jim’s name is again discovered in the medical records of a “pill mill”
• 1998 – Jim enters an addiction treatment center in Indianapolis
• 2002 – Police discover prescription records of Jim’s excessive pill use (over 120 prescriptions during 2002 alone, ranging from Vicodin, to Klonopin, to OxyContin)
• 2002 – Jim again enters an addiction treatment center
• 2007 – The Colts win the Super Bowl
• 2012 – Jim cuts Colt’s superstar Peyton Manning
• 2014 – Jim is arrested for possession of a controlled substance (prescription painkillers) and driving under the influence. The possession charges are later dropped
• 2014 – Jim’s license is suspended as a result of his arrest. The NFL also suspends him for six games and fines him $500,000
That brings us to today. Jim Irsay’s taken some recent hits from the media. Is it fair to call him an addict, though? Again, I’m not so sure.
Is Jim Irsay an Addict?
This is, ultimately, a question that spectators in Jim’s life can’t answer. He has to make that decision himself.
While he’s certainly displayed questionable judgment, it’s unfair to label him as definitively suffering from the disease of addiction. Only his doctor(s), Jim, and his Higher Power can answer whether he’s an addict or not.
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What Can We Learn from Jim’s Story?
The most important lesson we can take away from Jim Irsay’s history of substance abuse, arrests, and personal trouble is that drugs don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a billionaire or you live on the streets, excessive substance use always has the same result.
Another important lesson we can take away from Jim Irsay’s troubled personal life is perseverance. He’s relapsed multiple times, yet finds the strength to keep on trying. He’s been to multiple treatment centers, yet won’t surrender to drugs and alcohol.
Rather than labeling Jim Irsay an addict, let’s look to him as a source of hope and willingness. After all, if Jim can overcome his demons, surely we all can.