Another day has gone by without Jim Irsay being disciplined by the NFL in any way for his DUI arrest in March – in which he was also found with $29,029 in cash and several bottles of prescription drugs – and the NFLPA is starting to get pretty pissed.
NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith released a statement addressing the NFL’s lack of action on this matter. Smith certainly has a point. Adam Silver’s punishment of Donald Sterling was awesome for many reasons – the severity of the punishment being the biggest – but it was also noteworthy how quickly he dropped the hammer. If Silver had waited and waited before doing anything significant about it, the eventual punishment would’ve been far less satisfying (admittedly, the growing anger of the players and the threat of a boycott kind of forced his hand). Even if Goodell eventually comes down with huge sanctions against Irsay, his stalling on this issue will still be a problem. It gives the message that the transgressions of owners are less of a concern than those of players – even when they are doing something that puts people’s lives in danger.
There’s a good chance we’re about to see Josh Gordon miss an entire season for smoking weed. Quite frankly, this would be a painfully stupid development regardless of what happens to Irsay, but the inaction here exacerbates the problem significantly. If we see a player lose a year of their career for doing something which did not give him any advantage over his fellow players, or put anyone at risk in anyway, while a drunk-driving owner gets off with a slap on the wrist, it’ll be a really bad look for the league, and Goodell in particular, giving off the message that those with the most power will ultimately be shielded (heh) from any real consequences.
In the past, Goodell has come down strongly on DUI offenders, suspending Donte Stallworth for the entire 2009 season after a drunk driving incident in which a pedestrian was killed. Irsay’s drunk driving ultimately did not result in the loss of any lives, but the possibility of that happening was still there. If Irsay isn’t held to the same standard that a player committing the same offense would be, Goodell is going to look like a hypocrite… moreso.
Of course, Goodell could always shield himself from accusations of a bias towards owners by pointing out that he still hasn’t done jack shit about Ray Rice, either.