INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Colts owner Jim Irsay is known in NFL circles as
a tough businessman and eccentric billionaire who enjoys interacting
with fans about his beloved team and favorite songs from bands like the
Beatles and the Grateful Dead.
He may end up adding convicted felon to the mix.
Irsay was pulled over near his home in suburban Carmel just before
midnight Sunday by police who said they found multiple prescription
drugs inside his vehicle. He was spotted driving slowly, stopping in the
roadway and failing to use a turn signal, and police said Irsay failed
several roadside field sobriety tests before he was arrested.
The drugs weren't associated with any of the pill bottles found inside, police said. Some weren't even in bottles.
The 54-year-old Irsay, who acknowledged a painkiller dependency more
than a decade ago, faces preliminary charges of misdemeanor driving
while intoxicated and four felony counts of possession of a controlled
If Irsay is charged and convicted on the felony counts, he could face
six months to three years in prison on each count. Chief Deputy
Prosecutor Andre Miksha said no decision had been made on formal charges
and a hearing was set for March 26.
Irsay, whose mug shot was posted on websites for millions to see,
said nothing as he left the Hamilton County Jail after posting bond
Monday. A short time later, he tweeted: "Deepest thx to family, friends,
fans, colleagues for the messages of support, thoughts and prayers.
Impossible to tell u how much this means."
An NFL spokesman said Irsay is subject to discipline but didn't
elaborate on what that might be. Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand was
suspended for 30 days and fined $100,000 in 2010 for violating the NFL's
personal conduct policy following his guilty plea to driving while
Current and former NFL players were clearly watching the case with interest.
"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," Atlanta Falcons wide receiver White tweeted. "I'm guessing a
million dollar fine will come which is nothing to a man that makes
White, accused earlier this year of failing to appear in court for
speeding and tinted window citations, added: "I don't think Irsay is a
bad guy I actually like him as an owner but it was a bad mistake."
Authorities would not say what drugs Irsay was allegedly caught with,
but they were listed as Schedule IV drugs by the Drug Enforcement
Administration. That type of drug, which includes Xanax, Darvocet and
Ambien, has a low risk for abuse or dependency, according to the DEA.
Irsay acknowledged in 2002 that he had become dependent on
painkillers after several years of orthopedic operations but said he had
overcome the problem after undergoing treatment.
The DEA investigated the case, but local prosecutors at the time said
they saw no reason to charge Irsay. In October 2013, Irsay tweeted
that "I don't drink ... haven't in over 15 years."
Irsay became the Colts owner in 1997 after the death of his father,
Robert Irsay, and a lengthy legal battle with his father's second wife.
Forbes magazine has estimated Irsay's net worth at $1.6 billion.
He helped build the Colts into a top NFL team over the past decade
behind quarterback Peyton Manning, now with Denver, and was a key player
in the drive to bring the Super Bowl to Indianapolis two years ago. He
is working with some success to rebuild the team behind young
quarterback Andrew Luck while coping with a painful divorce that follows
a decade-long separation from his wife of 33 years.
Irsay has cultivated a relaxed image that fans have responded to.
Irsay has said the public wants owners who are "down to earth" and he's
done his best to keep his fans up to date on his team -- and lots of
"Don't ever mix NiQuil and Ambien...it'll give U gas and u might end up on Capitol Hill," he once tweeted.
Irsay has written his own poetry, songs and short stories and plays the guitar.
He is an eclectic collector of everything from letters from Abraham
Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson to electric guitars that once belonged to
famous musicians, including one said to be the last guitar played by
Jerry Garcia before he died in 1995. He made headlines by buying the
handwritten scroll manuscript of Jack Kerouac's beat poem "On the Road"
for $2.43 million and sending it on a nationwide tour.