Sideline Texts, Fake Crowd Noise Join Deflate-Gate as Fodder for NFL Investigators

Billy Cundiff
The Associated Press

The National Football League looks set to punish two teams, the Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons, for using technology to violate league rules.

In the case of the Browns, the NFL is set to penalize the team over an ongoing investigation into “Textgate.” Sources told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that the team and general manager Ray Farmer will be assessed a multigame suspension for Farmer–perhaps up to four games–and the loss of a draft pick for the Browns. Fines are also possible.

NFL sources have charged that Farmer and the Browns violated the league’s electronic device policy after a “high-ranking personnel member texted from the press box to the sidelines about playcalls” during a game.

The Browns have never denied the texting and are cooperating in the investigation.

“I know that Ray and Pett and Sashi Brown, our general counselor, are cooperating fully with the NFL, and if we did anything wrong I’m sure we’ll correct it and make whatever amends,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said. “I know we’ve cooperated fully with the NFL.”

In the second case, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank recently admitted that the NFL’s investigation into a charge of fake crowd noises being pumped into the Georgia Dome has substantiated the charges against the team. The louder crowd noises are reputed to have been pumped into the stadium during the huddles of the opposing teams.

”It’s not really a fine line,” Blank said on Wednesday. ”I think what we’ve done in 2013 and 2014 was wrong. Anything that affects the competitive balance and fairness on the field, we’re opposed to, as a league, as a club and as an owner. It’s obviously embarrassing but beyond embarrassing it doesn’t represent our culture and what we’re about.”

The Falcons could also lose a draft pick as punishment as well as suffer fines, penalties that may be formally announced in two to three weeks.

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