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Colts' Irsay discusses arrest, addiction

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay would not speculate on a possible NFL suspension after his arrest three months ago, but did tell the Indianapolis Star that he would submit to random drug testing with local authorities and offer the results to the league.

Irsay spoke Monday for the first time since he went into rehab after he was arrested during a traffic stop in March when he failed multiple field sobriety tests and was in possession of nearly $30,000 in cash.

He told the Star that he remains alcohol-free and continues to attend AA meetings.

“These diseases, both alcoholism and addiction, much like bipolar or depression and different illnesses, are still not seen as real diseases,” Irsay said during a two-hour interview with the Star. “People shy away from seeking help because it's viewed as being somewhat morally off the path, that they've lost their way. I really think the disease aspect gets lost when you're talking about alcoholism and addiction; it's not like you're battling leukemia or a heart problem; it is that. But even in 2014, there's still this stigma.”

Irsay, who turns 55 on Friday, believes chronic pain in his hip and back resulting from old injuries and surgeries led to a dependence on medication.

“It's all been a blessing, just being able to focus on my health and redouble the efforts on recovery,” Irsay told the newspaper. “It's been a long path. I still have chronic pain. But it was the good thing. … In some ways, (rehab) is my greatest moment. It takes courage to try and overcome the difficulties you have. For some reason, it's seen as unheroic.

”When someone beats cancer, it's like, ‘Wow, that's so heroic,' but when someone has this illness, it's treated like you're a leper because that person is morally corrupt, and that's not the case."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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