Irsay: Arrested because I’m a ‘white billionaire’

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said his 2014 arrest for operating a vehicle while intoxicated was a result of police prejudice against him for being “a rich, white billionaire.”

Irsay discussed the circumstances of his arrest as part of a wide-ranging interview with HBO Sports. The longtime Colts owner pleaded guilty in September 2014 to one misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

When asked why he pleaded guilty, Irsay responded: “Just to get it over with.”

“I am prejudiced against because I’m a rich, white billionaire,” Irsay said during the interview, which aired Tuesday night. “If I’m just the average guy down the block, they’re not pulling me in, of course not.”

Irsay was asked how he thought his assertion would be received.

“I don’t care what it sounds like,” Irsay said. “It’s the truth. … I could give a damn what people think how anything sounds or sounds like. The truth is the truth, and I know the truth.”

Police in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel pulled Irsay over in March 2014 after he was spotted driving slowly, stopping in the roadway and failing to use a turn signal. Officers said he had trouble reciting the alphabet and failed other field sobriety tests.

Irsay, when asked whether the arrest was a “low point” for him, told HBO Sports that he failed the field sobriety tests because he was just coming off hip surgery.

“The arrest was wrong,” he said. “I had just had hip surgery, and had been in the car for 45 minutes. And what — they asked me to walk the line? Are you kidding me? I can barely walk at all.”

Irsay was asked by HBO Sports to clarify his assertion that he failed the sobriety tests because of the hip surgery, not because he was under the influence.

“Yes, I mean I’m not saying that — it’s a fact,” he responded.

Police discovered various prescription drugs in Irsay’s vehicle along with more than $29,000 in cash. A toxicology report showed Irsay had the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone as well as alprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety, in his system at the time of his arrest.

The Carmel Police Department said in a statement Tuesday to The Indianapolis Star that it was “very sorry to hear” Irsay’s accusation of police prejudice against him.

“We have a very professional agency consisting of officers that strive to protect our community with integrity and professionalism,” Carmel Police Lt. D.J. Schoeff wrote in an email to The Indianapolis Star.

Irsay, 64, has publicly discussed his battle with addiction on numerous occasions. He told HBO Sports that “addiction and alcoholism is a fatal disease.”

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