Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has been suspended six games and fined $500,000 after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
The NFL announced the penalties Tuesday, stating that Irsay violated the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension takes effect at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and Irsay will be eligible to return after Indianapolis' game against the Houston Texans on Oct. 9.
Hours prior to the NFL's announcement, Irsay was in an Indiana courtroom, pleading guilty to a misdemeanor account of driving while intoxicated. The 55-year-old Irsay admitted to a judge he was under the influence of the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone when he was arrested on March 16 near his home in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel.
Irsay's toxicology report also showed he had alprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety, in his system when he was arrested. Alprazolam, which goes by the trade name Xanax, can be habit-forming and is a schedule IV controlled substance. It is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder and sometimes used to treat depression, among other symptoms.
"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," Irsay said in a statement released shortly after the NFL announced the penalties. "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."
Under the terms of the suspension, Irsay cannot attend any games or practices and is not allowed to be present at the Colts' facility.
The NFL also has barred Irsay from representing the Colts at any league-affiliated event, including league committee meetings. Irsay, who is active on social media, is also forbidden from discussing the Colts or NFL on his Twitter account.
The NFL owners will meet Oct. 7-8 in New York City, and Irsay will be banned from those meetings as part of his suspension.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell opted against the forfeiture of a draft pick or any other competitive penalty against the Colts because Irsay's conduct did not have competitive consequences.
According to the NFL's constitution, Irsay cannot be fined more than $500,000 unless Goodell goes to all owners to request heavier penalties. The collective bargaining agreement says that a player with a first-offense DUI misdemeanor would receive no suspension and a maximum fine of $50,000.
"I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players," Goodell said to Irsay in a letter, which was attached to the league's statement. "We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard."
The fine matches the fourth-largest in NFL history and is the heftiest handed down by Goodell since 2007, when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick also was fined $500,000 for his role in the infamous "Spygate" scandal.