TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was emotional and appeared contrite during a news conference Wednesday at the team’s practice facility, a day after he returned from a five-week suspension for being arrested on charges of extreme DUI in July.
Keim had to pause throughout his opening statement, his first public comments since his arrest and suspension, as he called his actions “inexcusable.”
Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen is dealing with a hand injury that has him considered day-to-day and might put his appearance in Sunday’s third preseason game in question.
Josh Rosen, the No. 10 overall pick, has shown signs that the Cardinals can depend on him should they need someone to step in for Sam Bradford.
“The truth is there’s nothing I can say that will make what I did right,” Keim said. “In fact, taking ownership of my behavior moving forward [is what] ultimately will define me as man.”
Keim was arrested early on the morning of July 4 on charges of DUI in Chandler, Arizona. Blood tests revealed his blood alcohol level was at .193, more than twice the legal limit and high enough in Arizona for the crime to be classified as an extreme DUI. He spent 48 hours in jail and was subsequently suspended by the Cardinals for five weeks and fined $200,000.
Before he could return, Keim had to complete counseling, an evaluation and a DUI education course, according to a team statement in July. Keim was barred from the team facility and prohibited from contact with the team during his suspension.
Keim called the incident “a major poor decision” but said “it’s not a mistake.” Keim did not directly answer a question about whether the incident was the result of an alcohol problem.
“I don’t want to get too deep into it and personal, but I can tell you that coming away from this has made me a better man,” Keim said.
Keim returned to the facility on Tuesday, the first day he was allowed back, and met with the organization’s staff. He met with the players on Wednesday morning and later with the media.
Coach Steve Wilks said the Cardinals do not “condone that kind of behavior and Steve has accepted his consequences.”
“He’s dealt with it in the right way and I can’t commend him enough in how he’s handled the situation,” Wilks said.
“He’s learned from this. He’s grown from this. We have embraced him. He is part of our family and we are excited to have him back.”
Running back David Johnson said Keim’s comments to the team were “really good.”
“He owned up to it,” Johnson said. “No one’s perfect and I’m glad that he realized what he did, and I’m glad he apologized.”
On Wednesday, Keim said the time away was “torture” but it gave him an opportunity to reflect, which “put a lot of things in perspective.” Keim admitted the entire experience, which played out in local and national media, was “extremely humbling and embarrassing beyond belief.” He said he felt he failed to live up to the standards and expectations of not just the Cardinals’ organization but the NFL, as well, and apologized for that.
“I don’t know that it was a bad thing to be able to take that time and to self-evaluate, to look at my behaviors and to get stronger and grow as a man,” Keim said.
While Keim said he needed to “take ownership” of his DUI and take time to “look deep into your own soul,” he was pleased the Cardinals had “such a good system in place” to continue carrying out football operations while he was on leave.
He said he heard from friends in and out of football, as well as from some people he didn’t know, during his suspension. But Keim felt he hurt “a lot of people in this process.”
Keim relayed a story about his 12-year-old son texting with a friend about the DUI arrest. After seeing Keim on TV, the friend said he was sorry to see Keim going through everything. To which Keim said his son replied: “I’m not. He shouldn’t have been doing it.”
“My son was right,” Keim said. “I don’t think there’s any feeling that’s worse than feeling like you let your children down.”
But Keim believes the experience will help him on the football side of his life. He thinks it won’t be more difficult to discipline players because he can relate to them better, which he said would be a benefit when he evaluates prospects with off-field issues.
“It’s hard to put yourself in their shoes and you don’t understand the different cultures that they come from and how they grow up or the disadvantages that they may have had as a child,” Keim said. “Again, I’m not saying that it’s a positive that this happened, but to make the best of it and to grow from it, that, to me, is something I can take away.”