Indianapolis Colts: Pete Ward

INDIANAPOLIS -- Listen to members of the Indianapolis Colts talk and the common theme coming out their mouths is having people who fit in with their "horseshoe" tradition.

For so long, being in the "horseshoe" family meant staying out of trouble, proudly representing the organization and being a part of their winning tradition.

[+] EnlargeRobert Mathis
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesThe Colts can get by just fine if owner Jim Irsay is suspended, but it's a different story with sack machine Robert Mathis.
That "horseshoe" image has taken a substantial hit this offseason with two of the Colts' leaders at the forefront of the problems. If owner Jim Irsay's arrest in March wasn't embarrassing enough, Friday's four-game suspension of pass-rush specialist Robert Mathis for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances further put the Colts in a negative light.

Mathis immediately released a statement following the announcement of his suspension that said he tested positive for a fertility drug. He and his wife are expecting a daughter in the fall.

The mistake Mathis made, which he acknowledged in the statement, is that he failed to check with the NFL or the NFL Players Association to see if what he was taking was illegal.

That's a mistake players should not make, especially a veteran like Mathis.

This is the second straight year that the Colts will be missing a player at the start of the season. Receiver LaVon Brazill and tight end Weslye Saunders were suspended for the first four and eight games, respectively, for not following the league's substance-abuse policies.

Indianapolis isn't done with being disciplined.

Commissioner Roger Goodell still has to determine how he will handle Irsay following his arrest for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated in March. He faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. Irsay took part in the team's draft last week and will be in Atlanta for the NFL owners meetings next week after spending time in a rehabilitation facility immediately following his arrest.

There's little doubt Goodell will discipline Irsay. In March, during the league's owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, Goodell said the Colts owner is subject to league discipline for his arrest but would wait "to understand the facts" before making a decision.

The Colts will be able to get by without Irsay if Goodell fines and suspends him as expected because the franchise is in capable hands with general manager Ryan Grigson on the football side and chief operating officer Pete Ward on the business side.

The same can't be said about the Colts' defense without Mathis.

If facing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles in the first two weeks of the season wasn't difficult enough already, now Indianapolis has to figure out a way to slow down those two offenses without the player responsible for 46 percent of their sacks (19.5) last season. Mathis, the heart and soul of the defense, will also miss games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

The Colts' image and aspirations to take another step in the AFC next season took a hit they couldn't afford to take Friday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a familiar face, one that had been absent around the Indianapolis Colts organization for nearly two months, inside the team’s draft war room Friday night.

A picture made its way around Twitter, and in it stood a sharply dressed man in a dark colored suit standing next to coach Chuck Pagano.

Owner Jim Irsay was back in his familiar setting.

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Irsay
"[It] was a shot of adrenalin," Pagano said. "He brings so much to the table and to the organization. He is the organization. He is the 'shoe.' To have Jim back in the building and back in the room with us today was pretty darn special."

Irsay had been in a rehabilitation facility getting treatment since March 17 after he was arrested the day before for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. A sign that Irsay was out of the treatment facility was when the Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said he would give the pitch to the NFL owners about Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl in 2018 during the league meeting in Atlanta later this month. Irsay was also up to his old habit of tweeting again on Thursday.

Irsay wasn’t just sitting around watching during the draft. He quizzed general manager Ryan Grigson about potential players they might take with the No. 59 and 90 picks. He asked about alternative options if the players they were interested in weren’t available and potential trades.

Being a part of the day-to-day activities is where Irsay, a former general manager of the Colts, feels comfortable.

The Colts selected Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort in the second round and Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief in the third round.

"It was great," Grigson said. "He brings great energy, football wisdom, all the years of experience. He knows how to push my buttons in terms of when we're making a pick, seeing if I'm really feeling it. Same with Chuck. He looks you in the eye and wants to know about the player, wants to be able to feel that passion when you're making that pick and know that you really want that guy.

"He has a great feel for that kind of thing. He can tell when he's talking with you who you like and who you just kind of like or maybe just fills a need. He wants to know the plan. He wants to know if he's not there, what we're going to do."

It’s uncertain how much longer Irsay will be around the team. Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the league’s owners meeting in Orlando, Florida, in March that Irsay is subject to league discipline for his arrest but that he would wait "to understand the facts" before making a decision.

His initial hearing in March was postponed.

"We obviously will want to understand the facts before we take any steps as it relates to any potential discipline," Goodell said in March. "Obviously any policies or any laws that are broken, whether you're commissioner or owner or player or coach, those are subject to discipline."

But for one night, things were back to normal at the Colts facility on the west side of Indianapolis.

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