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Monday, March 17, 2014
Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested

By Mike Wells
ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts owner Jim Irsay faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance after being arrested late Sunday on suspicion of intoxicated driving.

Irsay, who also faces a preliminary misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated, was arrested in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Jim Irsay
Jim Irsay was stopped late Sunday after police saw him driving erratically, and he faces four counts of felony possession of controlled substances.

The 54-year-old Irsay was released Monday afternoon, and his initial court appearance is March 26.

Police say Irsay failed several roadside field sobriety tests before he was arrested and that they found multiple prescription drugs inside his vehicle.

After news broke of the arrest, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Irsay "needs help."

The source also said that there are "fingers crossed" that the incident is a "wake-up call" for Irsay, who acknowledged in 2002 that he had become dependent on painkillers after several orthopedic operations but said he had overcome the problem after undergoing treatment.

Irsay took to Twitter after being released Monday, thanking his followers for their support.

Deepest thx to family, friends, fans, colleagues for the messages of support, thoughts and prayers. Impossible to tell u how much this means

- Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) March 17, 2014

If convicted on the felony charges, Irsay could face six months to three years in prison on each count. So-called Schedule IV drugs such as those with which Irsay was allegedly caught include Xanax, Darvocet and Ambien, which have a low risk for abuse or dependency, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

While searching Irsay's vehicle, "Multiple prescription drugs were discovered in pill bottles. These Schedule IV prescription drugs were not associated with any prescription bottles found in the vehicle," according to police.

The Colts released a statement Monday afternoon, saying that the organization supports Irsay.

"The club continues to fully support Mr. Irsay but must refrain from commenting further at least until formal charges have been filed," the statement read. "A hearing is tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday, March 26."

Irsay, who frequently interacts with fans on Twitter, wrote in an October tweet that "I don't drink...haven't in over 15 years."

He will be subject to league discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy, which applies to all personnel.

The case has some similarities with that of Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand, who was suspended for 30 days and fined $100,000 in 2010 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy following his guilty plea to driving while impaired.

Lewand, speaking after an appearance at the MGM Grand in Detroit on Monday night, said he couldn't make any judgments on what should happen to Irsay.

"We don't know the specifics," Lewand said. "It's not my role to judge anybody."

Irsay, who lives in Carmel, became the Colts' owner in 1997 after the death of his father, Robert Irsay, and a lengthy legal battle with his father's second wife. He is the seventh Colts player or official to be arrested since January 2010.

Forbes magazine estimated Irsay's net worth at $1.6 billion. His wife of 33 years, Meg Irsay, filed for divorce in November, citing an "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage.

A joint statement issued by the couple said Jim Irsay would retain full ownership of the Colts and his other business interests. The couple, married in 1980, have been separated for a decade and are the parents of three adult daughters.

Irsay was a key supporter in the drive to bring the Super Bowl to Indianapolis two years ago and helped build the Colts into an AFC power over the past decade behind quarterback Peyton Manning, who is now with Denver.

When the Colts were forced into rebuilding mode, Irsay painfully parted with Manning and other veterans but put together another winning team behind young quarterback Andrew Luck and others.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.