Due to the nature of the NFL offseason, what with players having much more time off, it's not uncommon for distractions to come and make a long offseason even longer for coaches and GMs. What isn't typical, however, is for those distractions and run-ins with the law to come from the owner. But that's exactly what happened with the Colts this offseason, and they must be glad that it's about to come to an end.
We've already discussed the Irsay situation quite a bit, including just recently when examining whether there's a double standard by the Colts and/or the NFL (hint: there's not). We're not going to get into that discussion here, rather we'll just state the facts.
Late on the night of March 16, 2014, Irsay was pulled over and arrested for driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance. He underwent treatment to get his addiction issues under control, during which time his daughters assumed the responsibility of running the team day-to-day. He was back with the team by draft time, and he seems (and looks) to be doing better. Still, he has yet to be disciplined and that leaves the issue open - though it was already that way given his August court date. There's more to come from this situation, but at least there will be football to drown it out a bit. Oh yeah, and then there's also this report from the Indy Star about how Irsay has to testify in the court case over a custody disagreement between a divorced couple.
The Irsay situation has been felt throughout the league. Numerous players, such as but not limited to Ryan Clark, Eric Winston, and Richard Sherman, as well as NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, plus several other owners. And, of course, a number of media people have chimed in as well. The reaction has been varied, but the most glaring thing is that the Colts have been in the news, and not for a good reason. That famous quote about "Any publicity is good publicity" doesn't prove true. This hasn't been good publicity for the Colts, and it's something that I'm sure they wish would just go away. But there's no sign of that happening any time soon - at least not until after Irsay's court date and his punishment from the league. For now, it remains a big issue and a subject the NFLPA especially is paying close attention to. The issue isn't going away right now, but football is coming back.
But it wasn't just the Irsay situation that put the Colts in the news this offseason. The team had two players suspended two - well, one star player and then a now former player. Wide receiver LaVon Brazill's suspension really didn't garner a whole lot of attention around the league, but he was suspended at least a year for violating the league's substance abuse policy yet again. The Colts subsequently released Brazill, and he was going to be a bubble player anyway. It wasn't a huge deal, but it's still not the type of attention you want.
The big suspension that did garner quite a bit attention, however, was the suspension of star outside linebacker Robert Mathis for the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The suspension of a star like Mathis, who last year was the league's best pass rusher and sack champion, naturally received a lot of attention and publicity, but this particular suspension also received extra attention because of the circumstances that led to it. While the responsibility ultimately lies with Mathis for failing to check to make sure the drug he was using was approved by the NFL (it's not), the circumstances still caused many to be sympathetic toward him. Basically, Mathis and his wife were struggling with infertility and wanted to get pregnant, so Mathis took a fertility drug for a short period until his wife conceived. Then, Mathis stopped taking the drug. Of course, the NFL wouldn't make exceptions (which is understandable due to the shaky precedent that it would set) and therefore Mathis will miss the first four games of this season. This situation isn't going away either, as we'll have a lot of talk during the first four weeks especially about Mathis's absence, and while it's not as embarrassing of a situation for the Colts as it is unfortunate, it's still not the type of attention you want surrounding your team.
And that brings us to training camp. We haven't even talked about actual football moves, and with that comes the perception by many that the Colts had a bad draft this year - but that's not for this discussion, as it deserves much more discussion than I could give it here. We've just mentioned the off the field stuff.
Obviously, the big situation was the Jim Irsay situation, and that is something that is still an issue today. Robert Mathis's suspension will become even more of an issue when the Colts have to play without him, but again, it's not as embarrassing of a situation as it is unfortunate for the Colts. While neither issue is going away soon, the good news is that training camp is beginning. That means less free time for the players, and in terms of what we've been talking about, it means more actual football news to take away from these situations. It has been a bit of a rough offseason for the Colts, but thankfully the offseason is coming to an end and the season is about to begin with Colts players reporting to training camp, ready to begin a season filled with much hope and expectations for the Colts.