Irsay’s drug history impacted Colts operations

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INDIANAPOLIS – New details are coming to light about how the Colts owner’s suspected drug use might have impacted the Colts negatively.

More than a decade ago, when the city of Indianapolis was negotiating with the Colts to build the team a new stadium, a source in the office of then-Mayor Bart Peterson admitted that it was difficult to reach a definitive deal with NFL franchise because of owner Jim Irsay’s inattentiveness due to his suspected drug use.

Another source indicated it took a directive from the NFL and linkage to league approval for financing assistance that finally convinced the Colts owner to seek treatment for his addiction.

“I became dependent on prescription pain medications,” Irsay said in a statement in 2002 at the same time federal agents were investigating a north side pharmacy where the owner filled more than 100 prescriptions for painkillers. “This summer I sought professional help at a nationally recognized facility located outside Indiana.”

“This is definitely something he has battled with for a long time that he has obviously been unable to, at this point, squash,” said JMV, host on 1070 THE FAN. “I’m sure that (the NFL) had words in the past just like you do with anybody who has an issue. I’m sure there have been words that have come down from the commissioner’s office and the higher-ups of the NFL stating, ‘This is what we want out of you as an owner.'”

Irsay arrived in Indianapolis 30 years ago this month with his father Bob, the owner of the Baltimore Colts. The senior Irsay was known as a hard-drinking man who thought nothing of berating his coaches on the sidelines during the games at the Hoosier Dome.

“Jim has tried and fought with demons,” said JMV. “Jim has tried to separate himself from his father’s image…and I think its something people always around her admired.”

Irsay assumed majority ownership of the team when he father died in the mid-1990s. Irsay later settled with his step-mother, Nancy, and became the full owner. He retains team ownership and had an estimated fortune of $1.6 billion before finalization of the divorce from his wife of thirty years Meg this past January.

“There are people truly concerned about him beyond the football aspect, beyond the leader of Indianapolis, as an NFL owner,” said JMV. “There are people now concerned about his well-being now moving forward. I would think that you would probably call this rock bottom.”

During Irsay’s past public battle with addiction, Colts fans the Hoosiers showed their sympathy for the struggling team owner.

“I think a lot of people out there do and still have sympathy for a guy,” said JMV, “but, if you have the resources, if you have the support group to go out and make sure you don’t have to be behind the wheel, a lot of people out there right now who have similar addictions, don’t have those resources or support group.”