NFL team owner claims prejudice against ‘rich, white billionaires’ to blame for DUI arrest

Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, says police were biased against him because he’s a “rich, white billionaire.”

Katie Hawkinson
Thursday 23 November 2023 22:03
Jim Irsay Cites Arrest Bias

An NFL team owner said in an interview that he believes the Indiana police officers who arrested him for driving under the influence were biased against him for being a “rich, white billionaire.”

“I am prejudiced against because I’m a rich, white billionaire,” Mr Irsay, owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, said in an interview with Andrea Kremer on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which aired 21 November on HBO.

“If I’m just the average guy down the block, they’re not pulling me in, of course not,” Mr Irsay continued.

Ms Kremer pushed him on the comment: “Do you know what it’s going to sound like if people hear you say they’re prejudiced against a rich white billionaire?”

“I don’t care what it sounds like, it’s the truth,” Mr Irsay said.

Irsay’s remarks referred to his 2014 arrest in Carmel, Indiana for driving while intoxicated. In his car, police found more than $29,000 in cash and prescription drugs, and a toxicology report showed he had two opioids and Xanax in his system, the IndyStar reports.

“I had just had hip surgery and had been in a car for 45 minutes and what? They ask me to walk the line. Are you kidding me? I can barely walk at all,” Mr Irsay said in the interview, per the IndyStar.

Mr Irsay later pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge — which he told Ms Kremer this week he only did to “get it over with” — and the NFL placed him on a six-game suspension as owner of the Colts, the Associated Press reported.

A spokesperson for the Carmel Police Department told the IndyStar they were “very sorry” to hear about Mr Irsay’s comments.

“We have a very professional agency consisting of officers that strive to protect our community with integrity and professionalism,” the spokesperson said.

The day after the interview aired, Mr Irsay wrote on X claiming show host Mr Gumbel treated him “with mean spirited contempt.” Later that day, Mr Irsay threatened to sue ESPN after hosts on their show “First Take” spoke about the interview.

Stephen Smith, a co-host of First Take, said on the show he’s “never looked at Jim Irsay as somebody with all of his marbles,” the IndyStar reports.

“When he makes a statement like this, on one hand, you can laugh about it because of how utterly ridiculous it is, being in America, [the] white power structure that exists,” Smith said, per the IndyStar. “Obviously, you’re a billionaire. You’ve got money and stuff like that and you’re white. So, usually when people think about prejudice, you certainly don’t look at that category.”

ESPN declined to comment. The Indianapolis Colts and Carmel Police Department did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment on a US federal holiday.

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