Donald Sterling is battling for ownership of his LA Clipper basketball team after recent offensive comments were made public. It’s a story that has captured national headlines. But perhaps with less visibility another problem has been brewing.
The controversy centers on Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL Indianapolis Colts franchise. On March 16, 2014, Irsay was pulled over by police while driving in an Indianapolis suburb. Police asked Irsay to submit to a blood alcohol test, a request he refused. By state law, that refusal triggers a one year suspension of Irsay’s driver’s license.
Eventually police officers obtained a warrant that demanded the blood test. But driving while intoxicated was only part of Irsay’s problem. At the time of his arrest, police also found nearly $30,000 worth of prescription drugs and cash money in his car. Effective May 27, 2014, the owner’s driver’s license was suspended for one year. Irsay is also facing four felony charges of possessing a controlled substance.
Irsay has refused most requests for comment, but did grant a print interview with The Indianapolis Star. During that interview Irsay made several oblique references to alcoholism and addiction. He said alcoholism and addiction, while similar to physical diseases such as heart disease or leukemia, still bear a cultural stigma. That stigma, he said, keeps many people from asking for help. The owner mentioned his own family history alluding to unsuccessful battles with alcohol or addiction, especially in the lives of his dad and granddad.
Irsay never directly reported addiction to prescription drugs or alcohol, although the owner has spent time in rehab treatment. He did say, however, that he takes prescription painkillers to deal with back and hip discomfort under the supervision of a physician.
The question making recent headlines is this: if the NBA will go to great lengths to deal with inappropriate language, should the NFL be involved when a team owner has an obvious problem with substance addiction? So far NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken no action.
If someone in your life is struggling to acknowledge a dependence on alcohol or prescription drugs, you don’t have to sit by and do nothing. Contact the addition treatment professionals at Family Guidance. They can discuss some next steps you can take to help your loved one. Call them today.