The NFL has cracked down on the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns, suspending Falcons President Rich McKay and Browns General Manager Ray Framer for violations of NFL policy.
The Falcons were also fined $350,000 and forced to forfeit a fifth-round 2016 draft pick for piping crowd noise into the Georgia Dome when the opposing team huddled or called plays in 2013 and 2014. The NFL also suspended McKay from his current role as chairman of the NFL Competition Committee, which supervises NFL rules. The Falcons fired Roddy White, their director of event marketing, who will be suspended for the first eight weeks of 2015 if he gets a job elsewhere in the league. The Falcons went 3-5 at home in 2015.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank stated, “What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards by which we run our business. Anytime there are actions that compromise the integrity of the NFL or threaten the culture of our franchise, as this issue did, they will be dealt with swiftly and strongly.”
The NFL fined the Browns $250,000 and suspended Farmer for the first four games of 2015 because he texted personnel during games, allegedly an assistant coach and a team representative on the sideline. The texts reportedly revolved around in-game strategy and use of personnel, according to ESPN.
A source told ESPN that the texts, which lasted until at least Week 15, revolved around “quarterback play, second-guessing of play calls, and use of personnel — especially the quarterback.”
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said the Browns would not lose any draft picks.
The NFL stated, “There was no evidence in the NFL’s review that Browns ownership or any other team executives had knowledge of the prohibited conduct. Once the violation was discovered, Browns management implemented new processes to ensure future compliance.”