Calabro's NFL meetings blog: A new Irsay in spotlight
For once, I was very early to an event!
It was 7:30 a.m., the NFL owners meetings weren't set to begin for another hour, and photographer Jacob Jennings had just set up his camera gear when Carlie Irsay Gordon arrived.
Gordon came strolling into the swanky Ritz-Carlton Hotel long before other NFL leaders arrived. The 33-year-old mother of three is stepping in as Colts owner while her father, Jim, gets help for a reported addiction to painkillers.
She is not a stranger to this NFL world. Gordon has attended the NFL meetings for the past ten years. She has been very involved behind the scenes and has gone out of her way to really learn the business.
Gordon is staying out of the public eye and running the family business. Pagano says she's very capable.
"Very, very bright and, obviously, has put the time in to acquire the acumen to be able to come down here, to be able to step in for Jim, if you will, during his time away. She knows her stuff," Pagano said.
General Manager Ryan Grigson runs most of the football day-to-day issues. He told me he has great confidence in Gordon to lead in the owner's role.
Owners and coaches are in Orlando to discuss possible changes to rules, but the Irsay situation is a hot topic, too.
"My heart's out for him. My family's praying for him. I get emotional because he's a special, special guy to me," said former Colts coach Bruce Arians. "I don't think people realize when I got sick, he flew my wife to Baltimore, plane sat on the ground until I came home. People just don't do that. Family is first in that organization."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to meet with the media later in the week. So far, he has not commented on the Irsay situation, but everyone expects Irsay to get a serious fine and suspension.
But can the league follow the same guidelines they use for the players?
"The standard penalty is a fine in the amount of two game checks. Okay, how do you fine someone who is worth $1.6 billion? How do you fine someone who is receiving millions from the league office every week? Do you take away two weeks of what the Colts receive from the league office, is that the equivalent penalty?" said Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. "Whatever you do by way of a financial punishment, it has to be an enormous magnitude to simulate what you do to a player."
Coach Chuck Pagano told me that the franchise is built around a "family first" attitude, which was started by Jim Irsay. Pagano had a great line that he gave me during an interview, "The bigger the trial, the greater the testimony."
I've known Irsay for 20 years and have watched his downward spiral. I believe he will be back in a big way, making an even bigger impact away from the game he loves so much.