Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay compared the dangers of playing football to bobsledding or taking a painkiller at the NFL owners’ annual meeting, he told the Sports Business Journal.
Irsay believes that players know the risk that comes with playing football and the NFL is doing as much as it can to improve safety measures and protect its players.
“Look at it: When you get into Olympic bobsledding — I could sit down and name a dozen different sports — it has always been a known factor that you know you are going in there and you are taking a risk,” Irsay said.
“To try to tie football, like I said, to suicides or murders or what have you, I believe that is just so absurd as well and it is harmful to other diseases, harmful to things like … when you get into the use of steroids, when you get into substance abuse, you get into the illness of alcohol and addiction,” Irsay added. “It’s a shame that gets missed, because there [are] very deadly diseases there, for instance, like alcoholism and addiction. That gets pushed to the side and [a person] says, ‘Oh, no. Football.’ To me, that’s really absurd.”
Irsay has previously battled addictions to painkillers and alcohol. In 2014, the Colts owner checked into treatment after being arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and also charged with four counts of possession of a controlled substance. He was suspended and fined by the NFL.
Last week, an investigation by The New York Times identified new flaws in concussion research conducted by the NFL. According to the Times report, NFL came to a conclusion on the studies based on a complete report of all diagnosed concussions been 1996 to 2001, and previous investigations have shown that the league used them to downplay the league's concussion problem. But when The Times asked about the data, the NFL admitted not every team submitted information about concussions sustained by their players because they were not required to do so.
The NFL responded by saying the Times had mischaracterized the information provided by the league and that the league had never claimed the original studies were complete. The NFL released a list of clarifications regarding the report and claimed the Times “ignored the facts.”
Fellow NFL owner Jerry Jones called a former NFL official's link between CTE and football as “absurd.”