On Monday, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay gave his first extensive public comments since he was arrested for driving while under the influence back in March. He spoke with Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star, who described Irsay as having clearer eyes than before, improved posture and a more healthy looking skin complexion.
Irsay said he has been alcohol-free for over a decade, which is similar to what he tweeted at the time of his arrest. He also admitted to having a painkiller addiction that started back in 2002 after several orthopedic surgeries for his hip and back. The 55-year-old repeatedly referred to his addiction as a “disease” and compared it to cancer and other diseases that kill.
“In some ways, (going through rehab) is my greatest moment,” Irsay told Kravitz. “It takes courage to try and overcome the difficulties you have. For some reason, it’s seen as unheroic. When someone beats cancer, it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s so heroic,’ but when someone has this illness, it’s treated like you’re a leper because that person is morally corrupt, and that’s not the case.
“… It’s an ongoing thing in one’s life when recovering from any disease. 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. And it’s rewarding because it makes you more virtuous when you have success.”
Irsay added that there is a “stigma” assosicated with alcoholism and additiction which makes the diseases particularly dangerous because people are afraid to treat them.
“People shy away from seeking help because it’s viewed as being somewhat morally off the path, that they’ve lost their way,” he said. “I really think the disease aspect gets lost when you’re talking about alcoholism and addiction; it’s not like you’re battling leukemia or a heart problem; it is that. But even in 2014, there’s still this stigma.”
Irsay still seemed to be treading lightly, as the legal process of his arrest and how it will affect his standing with the NFL is still playing out. He would not go on the record and address whether there is truth to the report that he could face a $1 million fine and a 6-8 game suspension from the league.
As for an apology, Irsay said he is not ready to issue one yet and did not promise that he will. He also said he is focused on running the Colts and putting together the best team he can, despite reports that his children are in control of the team and he has remained out of the picture.
To me, it seems like Irsay is looking for sympathy. Whether he deserves it or not is a matter of personal opinion.