Jim Irsay is not running the Colts right now. He's in a "healthcare facility," which is fancier name for what is clearly a rehab clinic. Jim is there for treatment after his recent arrest for driving intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance. The 54-year-old Colts owner has had a long and noted battle with painkillers, and, right now, dealing with that addiction is more important than football.
Thus, Jim's eldest daughter, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, is now running the team. She's in charge. She's the boss.
And no, this is not going to be a temporary thing.
Colts fans should not assume that Jim Irsay will be back and running the Colts anytime soon, if at all. Jim's battle with drugs are an embarrassment to a league built on the image of prestige and accountability. Players routinely lose their jobs for often frivolous drug violations, a fact that the NFLPA has noted repeatedly. Jim Irsay is a repeat violator, and just because he owns a team does not make him above the bylaws that govern all NFL employees and participants. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can (and likely will) suspend and fine Jim for his recent arrest. There is also the possibility that Jim could face random drug tests.
Yes, owners like Jimmy Haslam of the Browns seem like people doing far more dangerous and devastating things to the NFL's image than Irsay's arrest did. But, the reality is that the NFL is simply not going to tolerate another arrest and/or drug-related incident from Jim.
Thus, the Colts are in a state of transition.
We're already seeing media profiles on Irsay-Gordon, a sign that her recent assent to running the day-to-day operations of the team is not a temporary one. Yes, Jim is still the principle owner, but to expect him to return and simply pick up where he left off is fantasy. The logical move would be to begin the transition from Jim to Carlie, allowing her more control over what goes on in the organization.
Remember, this is an organization that is currently owned by a man who is in rehab. That fact doesn't necessarily scream ownership stability. As a result, it could be harder to sign and secure free agents, local sponsors, and additional stadium finances in the future.
And no, I don't think it was a coincidence that the Colts abruptly stopped all free agent signing activity literally on the day Irsay was arrested.
Speaking of pending free agents, if you're Andrew Luck and his agent, are you really feeling 100% confident in the Colts' ownership situation if Jim Irsay returned as if nothing had happened? I don't care what Luck or any of his reps say publicly, but the answer is no. They know it. I know it. You know it.
Thus, it just makes sense to begin the transition now.
In an ideal world, people like Jim Irsay and his family aren't running these teams. The cities that, for the most part, pay to maintain them should own the franchises, like what Green Bay has with the Packers. But, we don't live in an ideal world, and the NFL is far from being a fan-friendly business. So, we gotta deal with these Irsay people. Right now, it makes sense to begin the transfer of control from Jim to Carlie. This will bring some stability to the organization and, hopefully, get things back on the right track.