Irsay has admitted in the past to issues with substance abuse, and it's possible he needs help. If that's the case, he should and likely will get that help. That's not the issue here. What Irsay stands accused of Monday morning is a crime and should be treated as such by anyone in position to dole out discipline for it. If Irsay is guilty, Goodell must find some way of punishing him and making it obviously hurt.
It's not going to be easy. A suspension? Tough to enforce. A fine? How much can you fine a billionaire and really make it sting? A forfeited draft pick? Well, that'd get some people's attention, now wouldn't it?
"We are simply confirming that, yes, he is subject to discipline," a league spokesman told ESPN.com columnist Ashley Fox on Monday morning.
The personal conduct policy and player discipline are hallmarks of Goodell's commissionership -- critical elements to the swaggering-sheriff persona that has made him millions and earned him regal status in the eyes of the NFL's swooning public. If Irsay is guilty of the crime of which he stands accused, Goodell is going to have to find a way to apply that policy to an NFL owner. And whatever discipline that is, it's going to have to be a good one.