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NFL needs stricter policies concerning drunk driving arrests

Matthew Wilson

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Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, was arrested early Monday morning on charges of operating a vehicle while impaired and possession of a controlled substance.

It is hard to say what this means for Irsay and the Colts. Faced with four felony accounts, Irsay has both a legal battle and repercussions from the NFL ahead of him. Irsay has had a long history with substance abuse problems. He has previously spoken about his drug and alcohol use as a teenager and an addiction to painkillers.

Irsay’s arrest is another incident in a line of problems plaguing NFL management.

Last July, Matt Russell and Tom Heckert, director of player personnel and director of pro personnel for the Denver Broncos, found themselves in trouble after they were arrested for driving under the influence. Both men were disciplined by the team for their arrests. While the NFL’s personal conduct policy applies to all team and league employees, the league allowed the Broncos to discipline its own employees.

In 2010, Tom Lewand, president of the Detroit Lions, was fined $100,000 and suspended for 30 days after pleading guilty to driving while impaired.

It is apparent that there are problems with substance abuse and alcohol affecting the behind-the-scenes management of NFL teams. The league needs to continue to combat these problems and have a no-tolerance policy on alcohol and substance abuse. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010, an estimated 10,228 people were killed in drunk-driving related crashes.

Perhaps the NFL needs to impose a stricter policy in regard to DUIs. Maybe that would deter others from driving under the influence, or maybe, it would have no effect at all. It’s hard to say – just like it’s hard to say why Russell, Lewand and countless others drive under the influence in the first place.

Irsay made a costly mistake, and he’ll have a price to pay, but the price could have been much worse than a suspension or a fine, and for that, let’s hope he and the others have learned from their mistakes.


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NFL needs stricter policies concerning drunk driving arrests