The NFL is currently investigating the Cleveland Browns for improper texting to the sidelines during games, and the potential sanctions could include a suspension for GM Ray Farmer.
While the content of the messages is not known, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Jan. 6 that a "high-ranking member of the Browns' front office" sent the texts during games, which violates the NFL's electronics policy. The Plain Dealer now reports that the front office member in question was Farmer, and that the possible sanctions could include fines, loss of draft picks, and/or a multi-game suspension for Farmer.
The reports alleged that this improper texting (which the Plain Dealer has dubbed "textgate;" people, can we please stop adding "-gate" to the end of every single scandal? It's way too much. Anyway...) "was part of the reason for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's departure, along with pressure from the front office to play rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, who Shanahan felt was not ready. Shanahan found the situation with the Browns dysfunctional and left for a lateral move to become offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
This violation of the rules comes on the heels of the much-ballyhooed "deflategate" scandal involving the Patriots, as well as accusations that the Falcons pumped in crowd noise through their speakers, meaning the NFL will have a lot of decisions to make in the next couple of weeks.
At the Greater Cleveland Sports Award ceremony on Jan. 22, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam stressed that the club was going to cooperate fully with 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," Haslam said. "I know we've cooperated fully with the NFL."
The Browns have had a flurry of bad news this offseason, starting with Shanahan's departure, and including the one-year suspension of wide receiver Josh Gordon this week for violating the league's substance abuse policy (again). Multiple negative stories about Manziel have come out as well, and today it was reported that the Browns are exploring a trade to draft Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner.
The situation can be expected to be resolved within the next one to three weeks, according to the report.
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