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Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Does Irsay's addiction stance apply to players?

By Paul Kuharsky

Colts owner Jim Irsay raised a very interesting point in his conversation with Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz.

Irsay spoke of the stigma connected to addiction and failed recovery, and of how addiction should be viewed more like other diseases.
These diseases, both alcoholism and addiction, much like bipolar or depression and different illnesses, are still not seen as real diseases. People shy away from seeking help because it's viewed as being somewhat morally off the path, that they've lost their way. I really think the disease aspect gets lost when you're talking about alcoholism and addiction -- it's not like you're battling leukemia or a heart problem. It is that. But even in 2014, there's still this stigma.

...That stigma gets carried forward and it's unfortunate because people die and families get affected and people don't seek treatment. It's an unusual disease in the sense that the person has to diagnose himself. He has to realize that there's this genetic disease you have to deal with through treatment. My grandfather and father both died of the disease, and you realize you've spent a lot of time on this path. Certainly, I have. But with the disease, surgery and pain management can be very tricky waters.

Regardless of how an addiction starts, it should be treated as a disease. So where was Irsay when players expressed the same concerns about addictions stemming from pain management?

And have we ever seen Irsay expressing a similar sentiment about addiction as they pertain to a player who may be struggling with one and subject to suspensions and wage losses under league policy?

If he has not expressed the same sympathy and sentiment for those players that he’s now seeking for himself, I wonder if the stance is more about covering his backside than about expressing a real opinion on a broader issue.

He could be a leader and a resource for players with real problems.

Count me among those that probably say too easily that a player testing positive multiple times lacks discipline and brains. Surely some of them have developed a problem, not unlike Irsay’s. While we're discussing his addiction, we should also be considering theirs.

I reached out to Kravitz and he said he didn’t manage to steer Irsay to that topic when they visited.

Hopefully we’ll hear Irsay address that eventually.