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Extra Points: Irsay situation is tricky for NFL

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Before taking the job as NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell had already decided what he wanted his legacy to be.

While Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue will be forever revered as economic geniuses, there was a dark side to their respective watches - the NFL turned into a clearinghouse for miscreants under both men, and Goodell wanted to clean that up.

The league's personal conduct policy and player discipline have been the signature accomplishments of Goodell's watch.

During his tenure, Goodell has been far more aggressive in terms of punishing players than Rozelle or Tagliabue. The result of that, however, is that the current commish is not all that well-liked by his players, a direct result of his heavy-handed approach when it comes to their off-the-field foibles.

To them, Goodell must come down just as hard on troubled Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay if he ever wants to be taken seriously.

"I want to see what the NFL does about this Jim Irsay situation if a player loses a game check no matter the amount he should lose a game day," Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White tweeted.

That take, however, is either a fundamental misunderstanding of Goodell's role in this situation or a disingenuous argument designed to paint the players in a more positive light.

Irsay, of course, was arrested late Sunday night and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, along with four counts of possession of a controlled substance.

The Indianapolis Star reported that police found several pill bottles in Irsay's car, but the prescription drugs recovered were not associated with any of the prescriptions.

A player in the same mess would unquestionably be facing a suspension and the loss of multiple game checks once the legal process ran its course, but understand Irsay is currently worth $1.6 billion and one of 32 people in the world who can actually call himself Goodell's boss.

While a league spokesman confirmed to The Sports Network that Irsay is indeed subject to league discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy, there is nothing collectively bargained from the owners' side regarding their own behavior.

In other words, it's more of a wink-wink agreement with an eye toward the public relations aspect of a conundrum like this.

When he's clean-and-sober, Irsay will recognize that something must be done here and you can bet he will be involved in negotiating the actual end-game (my bet is a substantial fine handed over to one of the team's favorite charities).

But, there's no substance-abuse policy that Irsay must follow moving forward and certainly no stages in which one incident triggers added testing.

This is up to him and him alone to fix.

So, while some players are lamenting the unfairness of their plight, maybe they should take a step back and embrace the fact there are policies in place to get them help if they need it.

Irsay, on the other hand, is left to his own devices and while his personal assets to get that help are far more substantive than any of us could ever imagine, understand none of that has meant anything to this point.

Local Indy columnist Bob Kravitz painted a dire picture of what's going on with Irsay right now, saying one Colts source told him: "He is a sick, sick man. He desperately needs help."

According to Kravitz, the team has been cleaning up Irsay's "messes" for years but the owner has continually dismissed efforts by close friends to clean up a significant prescription drug addiction.

In hindsight, Irsay's gaunt physical appearance (he has dropped close to 70 pounds in recent years) and occasional Twitter ramblings foreshadowed his descent.

Hopefully, it's not predicting the end.

03/18 15:56:12 ET