Adam Schefter of ESPN reports the NFL will hand out two significant punishments to team executives later this week:
The NFL released a statement to Schefter with details about the sanctions against the Browns:
The use of a cell phone on multiple occasions during games in 2014 by Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer was a violation of NFL rules that prohibit certain uses of electronic devices during games. Based on these violations, the Browns have been fined $250,000 and Ray Farmer will be suspended without pay for the first four regular-season games of the 2015 season. The suspension will start on midnight of the Sunday preceding the Browns' first regular-season game and will end immediately after the Browns' fourth regular-season game. During the period of the suspension, Farmer cannot be involved in any club matters and is prohibited from being at the Browns' offices, practice facility, or at Browns games.
The NFL says the Falcons have been fined $350,000 and have lost a fifth-round pick in the 2016 Draft.
The Atlanta Falcons have acknowledged the use of pre-recorded crowd noise in violation of NFL rules during home games throughout the 2013 season and into the 2014 season until the club was notified last November that the violation had been identified. The rule states that "at no point during the game can artificial crowd noise or amplified crowd noise be played in the stadium." Based on the full record, the Falcons have been fined $350,000 and will forfeit their fifth-round selection in the 2016 Draft. If the Falcons have multiple picks in that round, the highest selection will be forfeited.
The Falcons say they have fired Roddy White, the marketing director who orchestrated the violation. No, not the wide receiver Roddy White.
In February, Schefter broke the story that the NFL had been investigating the Falcons for two months on suspicion of blasting artificial crowd noise during home games.
Ostensibly, the Falcons would have been blaring supplementary crowd noise while the team was on defense, hoping to shake up opposing quarterbacks trying to direct plays. Crowd loudness is one of the basic privileges of home field advantage, as the Seahawks and their deafening fans have learned over the past few seasons.
Browns GM Ray Farmer is accused of sending text messages to coaches during games, allegedly disputing the plays they decided to call.
As the 2014-2015 Browns season showed, the practice, forbidden by the NFL, did not result in much of a competitive advantage.
During the offseason, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left the Browns after one season, citing organizational dysfunction. Sometimes-starting quarterback Brian Hoyer said Shanahan's resignation revealed to him the same dysfunction and that it would influence his decision as a free agent. Hoyer chose to sign with the Texans.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Lindsey Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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