Irsay discusses arrest, addiction
Updated On: Jun 10 2014 01:29:48 AM CDT
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay would not speculate on a possible NFL suspension after his arrest three months ago but did say that he would submit to random drug testing with local authorities and offer the results to the league.
Irsay spoke Monday for the first time since he went into rehab after he was arrested during a traffic stop in March when he failed multiple field sobriety tests and was in possession of nearly $30,000 in cash.
In an interview published Tuesday, he told The Indianapolis Star that he remains alcohol-free and continues to attend AA meetings.
"These diseases, both alcoholism and addiction, much like bipolar or depression and different illnesses, are still not seen as real diseases," Irsay said during a two-hour interview with The Star. "People shy away from seeking help because it's viewed as being somewhat morally off the path, that they've lost their way. 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 believes chronic pain in his hip and back resulting from old injuries and surgeries led to a dependence on medication.
"It's all been a blessing, just being able to focus on my health and redouble the efforts on recovery," Irsay told The Indianapolis Star. "It's been a long path. I still have chronic pain. But it was the good thing. ... In some ways, (rehab) is my greatest moment. 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."
But Irsay, who turns 55 on Friday, refused to apologize for his actions.
"I don't think that's something I'll address right now," Irsay said. "There are certain things I want to say that I can't say. We need to let the process go forward and I'll address that later. I'm a human being; if there's something I have to apologize for, I would, but at this point, it wouldn't be appropriate.
"It sets me up, like if you don't say you're sorry, then why aren't you saying your sorry, and if you say you're sorry, then you must have done something wrong."
Irsay would not directly anwser questions about the failed sobriety tests, but he did responed when asked about why he was carrying all that cash.
"I don't know why that was leaked to the press or what it had to do with anything," he said. "You're talking about someone who is extremely generous, and I say that humbly. That's the way I try to live my life and it has nothing to do with the law. What's been reported out there, there's been a sensationalizing about things that have nothing to do with the law. It shouldn't be an issue."
Irsay took issue with reports that he ceded control of the Colts while he was in rehab to his family.
"I'd say my focus is on the season, my focus is on making the Colts the best team in the NFL," he said. "I'm completely engaged and have always been engaged, even when I was in rehab. Your paper acted like my kids were running the team and I was in some kind of coma and that's just not the truth."
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