Over the last few days, a backlash has begun to form over the lack of backlash among the Indianapolis media towards Jim Irsay after his arrest on Sunday night. The Indianapolis media has generally taken a compassionate tone toward Jim Irsay, imploring him to get the help he needs to beat a recurring substance addiction.
Apparently, concern and support are not tolerated by some of the national media, which is outraged that Jim Irsay would be treated differently by the media in his situation than a player would be.
Thing is, Irsay's situation is different.
It's not because he's rich. It's not because he's white.
It's because he's the 54-year-old owner of an NFL franchise, and not a 23-year-old player. Irsay's situation is different from a similar situation with a coach, front-office executive or player. All of those situations would be handled differently, because they all are at different positions in a business and in the community. Cookie-cutter reactions are the easy way out, not legitimate solutions to unique, sensitive subjects.
Irsay is a long-time member of a community who isn't going anywhere, for one. He's built up his support in Indianapolis by being one of the best owners in the NFL for nearly 20 years, despite quirks and individual flaws. Both inside and outside the team complex, Irsay has been an active, positive member of the Indianapolis community for years.
A player for an NFL franchise is temporary, like it or not. If a player's personal addictions to partying, drugs, alcohol or whatever else keep him from performing on the field (whether it be due to suspensions or a lack of commitment to excellence), fans don't want that player around. It's how we look at the game. If a player is a detriment to the team, cut him.
That doesn't mean we don't weigh the pros and cons. Amidst anger and disappointment for Pat McAfee during his drunken escapade in the Broad Ripple Canal was also support from both the team and community. The team kept McAfee around, and the punter is one of the most-loved member of the franchise.
Nobody is going to fire Jim Irsay, and most Colts fans don't want him gone, not if he's cleaned up anyway. While his handling of the Peyton Manning release and post-Manning team building has not always been ideal, Irsay remains one of the league's best owners. We want Irsay to get help because he's a good owner, a good member of the community and we're concerned for him as a human being.
This isn't a mid-20s player who went out partying and wasn't smart about it, someone who made a one-time mistake that we chide briefly and then move on.
It's a man who the public has seen overcome addiction before who now has slipped into the trap once more, and we're rooting for him to overcome it again. It's a man who has physically deteriorated over the last 18 months right in front of our eyes, and now we may know a reason why.
Nobody is excusing Irsay, which is a major misconception. He's made many mistakes in his lifetime, and this is clearly one of them. The first reaction by many of us was "WHY DIDN'T HE HAVE A DRIVER??" Irsay has been the butt of jokes for years because of his reputation as a former Coke-addict with goofy Twitter antics. It's not like we are ignoring his checkered past or pretending this whole situation never happened.
When somebody proposes that Irsay gets a Nobel Peace Prize, then you can berate them.
The black-and-white, good-or-bad viewpoint that people take on is abhorrent, in many ways. Jim Irsay is either Jesus or a serial killer, and there is no in-between. If you don't think Irsay should be locked up in an asylum for the rest of his life, you must think that he can do no wrong.
Isn't it possible to be disappointed and angry at Jim Irsay while also hoping and praying that he gets help and beats back his demons once more? I don't think it's ok that Irsay got behind the wheel of a car on Sunday night, or even that he is taking these pills in the first place.
But what does KSK's Christmas Ape want me to do? Rant about how stupid Jim Irsay is and call for the residents of Indianapolis to extradite him from the community?
I am glad Irsay was arrested. I'm glad it could happen without hurting anyone. I'm glad he's voluntarily checked back into rehab. I hope he can beat the addiction and use some of his vast resources to help others. If that happens, I'll be glad about that as well.
That doesn't mean I'm happy he has an addiction or proud of him for getting behind the wheel of a car and potentially putting people's lives at risk on Sunday night. It was dumb. It was reckless. It was a mistake. Is anybody denying those things?
There's a difference between absolving someone from guilt and expressing support in hopes that said person rise above his mistakes and become better for it. It's just not that simple.
The Colts aren't going to cut Jim Irsay, and the city of Indianapolis isn't going to trade him for a sixth-round draft pick. While some Colts fans don't like Irsay, and some of the national media despises him, he's not going anywhere. He's a member of the Indianapolis community, for better or for worse. For the last 20 years, it's been overwhelmingly for the better, and we hope and pray it can continue.