CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – Colts owner Jim Irsay’s arrest Sunday night on four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance follows a documented history of prescription drug abuse stretching back nearly two decades.
Problems may have begun surfacing decades earlier, however, when Irsay was in college at Southern Methodist University in Texas.
Court records obtained by our sister station WISH-TV show Irsay was arrested in Dallas County, Texas on a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge on January 16, 1979. According to court records, he was later found “not guilty” of the offense by a judge.
But, his battle with substance abuse wasn’t over.
In 2002, Irsay admitted that he had become addicted to painkillers. Several reports show Irsay was first prescribed Vicodin in the 1990s following several different surgeries on a chronic back injury sustained during his football playing days at SMU.
According to reports filed by the Associated Press at the time, Irsay sought substance abuse treatment at least three times, beginning in 1998. AP stories at the time also cited multiple sources who alleged that Irsay overdosed on prescription drugs in both 2000 and 2001.
Then, in 2002, reports surfaced that Irsay was the target of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration probe into prescription drug fraud, along with two Indianapolis-area doctors who were under investigation for prescribing excessive amounts of painkillers.
No charges were ever filed against Irsay in connection with that case.
But, in response to those reports, Irsay did admit for the first time that he had developed a dependence on prescription painkillers.
“After several years of orthopedic operations and procedures, accompanied by long bouts of chronic pain, I became dependent on prescription pain medications,” Irsay wrote in a 2002 statement to the media. “This summer I sought professional help at a nationally recognized facility located outside Indiana. I have successfully dealt with my dependence and my chronic pain issues.”
Addiction specialists say that promise is often hard for addicts to keep.
“By and large, that’s the trend, to where someone needs repeated exposure to education, repeated exposure to therapy, repeated exposure to treatment in order for them to “get it,” and begin to put together, proactively, a lifestyle of recovery,” said Fairbanks Addiction Treatment Center Assistant Director of Adult Services Tobyn Linton.
Still, Irsay seemed to have embraced that recovery.
“It’s a lifelong thing,” he told USA Today in 2007. “It’s something you deal with every day for the rest of your life.”
Linton says that admission is key to recovery.
“It is a lifelong process. People refer to recovery as a journey, and not as a destination. It’s those little days you put together, one day at a time, and then looking back and reflecting now and then,” he said.
Linton said prescription drug abuse has grown quickly in Indiana, outpacing national rates, and has reached across all gender, race and income barriers.
“Addiction knows no bounds. It’s non-discriminatory. It can affect a seemingly well put together person. And, it can affect people who don’t appear on the outside to have their life together. That’s a real myth we try to work against,” he said.
Irsay spoke publicly about his use of drugs and alcohol as a college student and young adult. And, in a 2010 interview with USA Today, he said he had been “clean and sober” since 2002, in part because of his father’s addition to alcohol. Robert Irsay, who moved the Colts to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984, died in 1997.
“The alcohol turned him into Jekyll-and-Hyde, and he was a bad Jekyll-and-Hyde drinker,” Irsay said in the story, which was printed shortly before the Colts played in their last Super Bowl. “But, there was a part of him that said ‘I don’t want that to happen to my son.”
More recent public affirmations of sobriety were made on Irsay’s most popular communication medium: Twitter.
“I don’t drink…haven’t in over 15 years,” he wrote in a tweet last October.
Then, in December, he addressed the issue again.
“Sorry to ruin your theories…but I don’t drink…at all,” he tweeted. “I’m allergic to alcohol…I break out in handcuffs if I drink!!!”
Still, if Irsay relapsed into additional prescription drug abuse, experts say it wouldn’t be a unique situation.
“I hesitate to say that there is any sort of usual situation, because we’ve heard of cases where someone will put together 6 years or 15 or 20 years [in sobriety], and for whatever reason, those triggering reasons and external cues come together at the wrong time and wrong place and trigger a relapse,” Linton said. “As a treatment provider, it doesn’t matter how you get to the door. You just have to be willing to accept the help.”
Linton-Stockton High School football coach Brian Oliver served as the guest speaker at the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce meeting on Tuesday.
Oliver, an LSHS grad, spoke on football, leadership, faith, family and the small-town experience.
“We’re having a very successful season,” he said, noting the LSHS football team is working toward winning 15 games.
“I’m proud of what they [players] bring to the town and to the school,” he said, adding that several people come from out of town to experience Miner football.
Experiencing the community support during football season has also been great, he said.
Oliver also teaches industrial technology at the L-S Middle School.
“I am a teacher first before I am a coach,” he explained.
Oliver is also a deacon at the Linton First Christian Church.
“I am high on the Christian faith,” he said, noting his faith keeps him grounded.
Oliver also encouraged everyone to attend Friday’s game.
“Our goal is ‘win 15′ and these guys are very determined … I honestly believe we will win Friday night,” he added, noting the team is practicing great.
The Miners will take on Eastern Hancock in Charlottesville Friday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. For those unable to make the trip there will be a free online live stream of the game at lintonminers.com.
In other business, L-S Chamber Executive Director Cheryl Hamilton noted that the chamber’s annual Christmas party is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Old Bank in downtown Linton.
School spirit hit the Bloomfield School in the way of a pep session on Tuesday afternoon.
Bloomfield Athletic Director Ron McBride explained that the pep session was twofold in that it honored the varsity volleyball team and cross country runner, Ali Workman.
“We [honored] our girls who advanced to regional [in volleyball] and Ali [was] honored for advancing to state finals in cross country,” McBride said.
Bloomfield varsity volleyball will take on the Indiana Deaf School in the regional match at 7 p.m. at Bloomfield tonight. Ali Workman, a sophomore, will compete at the cross country state competition Saturday in Terre Haute.
“It’s a big honor for our school to have first of all one of our runners advance to the state finals. It’s a big honor for her as an individual to represent our school,” McBride explained. “It’s also great for the volleyball team to win the sectional and advance to the regional. To have them both advancing at this time of year is really good.”
Workman is the first girl in Bloomfield cross country history to make it to the state competition, explained Bloomfield cross country coach Caleb Dunkerly.
“For her to be the first girl in Bloomfield history to make it to the state in cross country just shows how much time she’s put in… and to do it as a sophomore is remarkable,” Dunkerly said, noting Workman’s dedication to the sport is phenomenal and as a freshman she qualified for semi-state.
“She doesn’t want to take an off-day and she wants to prepare mentally,” he added.
Workman also recently set a new personal record.
“This past Saturday at the semi-state at Brown County, Ali set a new personal record at 19:23. She surpassed her [former] personal record by 27 seconds,” he added.
Workman has spent this week preparing for Saturday’s competition with speed workouts and long distance runs. On Wednesday, she will go to Terre Haute to experience a practice run at the state course.
“She has huge potential for junior and senior year,” Dunkerly also said, noting the potential for a scholarship looks hopeful.
Ashlea Dunkerly, Bloomfield varsity volleyball coach, is looking forward to tonight’s regional competition and said her team is ready to go.
“They are definitely ready. We had a really good practice yesterday and we played really well at the sectional. They have a really good chance to win the regional,” she explained.
The team has improved its winning record and has a current season standing of 18-11.
“Last year we had 13 wins on the season, this is the first winning record we’ve had in five or six years,” she added. “I am so proud of them this season. They have worked so hard. We’ve laughed, cried, and persevered. I couldn’t be more proud to be their coach.”
With two seniors, one junior, two freshman, and six sophomores the team has a very bright future, she said.
“I think our sophomore class is really strong. They play basketball, softball, and tennis. They work really hard, but the team in general is a really special group… They’re such a close group of girls and that really helps,” she added.
The winner of tonight’s regional game will compete at the semi-state on Saturday.
Linton Youth All-Star Football invites you to its upcoming Fazoli’s fundraiser and silent auction.
The fundraising event is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 2 at the east shelter house at Humphreys Park in Linton. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.
Robbie Boldrey, event co-organizer, encouraged the public to come out and support all-star football.
“[Advance] tickets can be purchased by contacting players, family, and coaches or by contacting Rachel or Robbie Boldrey,” he said, noting tickets can also be purchased at the door.
Menu includes the following: Spaghetti/fettuccine, salad, breadsticks, dessert, and drink.
Several silent auction items have been donated from various local and regional businesses.
“The auction itself is going to be very nice. With Christmas closely approaching, I would be thinking gifts and stocking stuffers,” Boldrey added.
Look for donated items from the following businesses: Linton Sporting Goods, Texas Road House, Buffalo Wild Wings, Big Splash Adventure, Jay’s Auto World, Pacesetter Sports, Kado’s Trading, Correll’s L.P. Gas, Harley-Davidson Store, Dairy Queen, Vigo Dodge, Sullivan Bowling Lanes/Patrick’s Restaurant, Montana Mike, Pizza Hut, Linton Family Pharmacy, Sha’e Lynn, Monical’s Pizza, La Fiesta, Sears, and more.
For more information, contact Boldrey at (812) 798-4926.
One Linton-Stockton freshman is running right into the cross country regional on Saturday.
Hanna Camden, daughter of Heather and Eric Van Horn, will represent the L-S cross country team at the regional round of the state tournament, which will be held at Bedford North Lawrence with the girls’ start at 11:10 a.m.
Camden has been running since the sixth grade and was inspired to do so by her older sister.
“My older sister did it and I started running with her,” she explained.
As for her upcoming regional run, she is really looking forward to it.
“I’m real excited and I can’t wait to go and compete against all of the other schools,” Camden added.
She’s also been practicing harder for the competition.
“We’ve been doing more speed practices so I can try to get faster in my race,” she said.
She was honored as most valuable runner in eighth grade and her best time this season has been
As a freshman, Camden is also looking forward to the rest of her high school career as a runner. For now, she is ready to compete on Saturday.
“I’m just real excited to go,” she reiterated.
[EDIT 3/22 9:21am: It seems when I was making the thumbnail graphic for this video, I forgot how to use a calendar. March 13th is a Wednesday. How did we all miss that? - Derrick]
Watch LIVE as the Miners take on the Sparkplugs of Speedway in the Boys Basketball Semi-State Championship at Richmond.Tip-off begins Saturday at 1pm for Richmond’s Tiernan Center!
The broadcast is presented by Premier Healthcare and made by possible by Linton Family Pharmacy, Welch & Cornett Funeral Home, and Lyons Health and Living Center. Commentary is provided by Keith Doades and Darren Clayton of Media Five Sports.
Volunteer Streaming Crew
Derrick Tennant – Producer
Tony Tadey – Audio
Nolan Spinney – Camera
Jared Albright – Camera
Also available for viewing at LintonMiners.com