Jim Irsay pleads guilty to OWI, suspended 6 games by NFL

Jim Irsay enters court Tuesday
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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has pleaded guilty to an OWI charge as part of a plea deal.

Hours after the plea was entered, the NFL announced a six-game suspension and $500,000 fine for the Colts owner. The fine is the largest allowed under league rules. Irsay's suspension starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Police arrested Irsay in March on two misdemeanor OWI charges. One of those charges was dropped.

Irsay didn't say much as he walked into the Hamilton County Judicial Center Tuesday. Once inside, he went through security, just like any ordinary person. Prosecutors say, as far as the legal system is concerned, Irsay was treated just like anyone else.

"In this case, what you have is first-time OWI plea, that is pretty typical," said Andre Miksha, Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office.

As part of the plea, Irsay is on probation for the next year. During that time, he cannot drive, cannot drink alcohol, will undergo random drug tests and must provide prescriptions for any medications he takes.

In March, Irsay was pulled over by Carmel Police, who said he was driving slowly and didn't use a turn signal. He tested positive for Oxycodone and Oxycontin. In his car, officers found numerous prescription pills, but no corresponding pill bottles.

Initially, he was charged with four felony counts for possession of the drugs, but those charges were dropped.

"In the end, we didn't believe that we could prove that he possessed any of those illegally. That is, we believe that he possessed each of those substances legally and so we could not charge him," Miksha said.

During the suspension, Irsay is barred from appearing at the Colts' practice facility or games, cannot represent the team at any functions and may not grant interviews or post to social media on matters related to the team.

"I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players. We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to Irsay.

Goodell said no draft choices will be forfeited by the team since Irsay's conduct did not have "competitive consequences."

Irsay will be eligible to return to his duties with the Colts after the October 9 game at Houston.

Irsay statement

Irsay issued a statement moments after the suspension was announced by the NFL.

"I acknowledge the mistake I made last March and stand responsible for the consequences of that mistake, for which I sincerely apologize to our community and to Colts fans everywhere. Even more importantly, though, I am committed to do everything in my power to turn this whole experience into a positive event for myself, my family, and the community. In retrospect, I now know that the incident opened my eyes to issues in my life that needed addressing and helped put me on the path to regain my health. I truly hope and pray that my episode will help in some small measure to diminish the stigma surrounding our country's terrible and deadly problem of addiction. It is a disease like other progressive, terminal diseases—one that can only be successfully treated by understanding, committed hard work, and spiritual growth. I am deeply grateful for the tremendous outpouring of love and support during these past few months from my family, friends, care-givers, and our great community. Please know I am firmly committed to staying on my path to good health and I look forward to a great season."