Judgment is here for the Cleveland Browns in connection with the team's texting scandal.
The NFL announced Monday that Browns general manager Ray Farmer was suspended without pay for the first four regular-season games of the 2015 season for his violation of the NFL's electronic device policy. The Browns have also been fined $250,000. Cleveland will not lose a draft pick.
The NFL found "there was no evidence in the NFL's review that Browns ownership or any other team executives had knowledge of the prohibited conduct." Browns management implemented new processes to ensure future compliance in the wake of the incident.
"We accept the league's ruling," Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement released through the team. "Ray made a mistake and takes full responsibility for his role in violating the policy. It is critical that we make better decisions. Ray has tremendous integrity and I know has great remorse for what occurred. We are all committed to learning from this and making the Browns a stronger and better organization."
Farmer acknowledged at the NFL Scouting Combine in February that he texted team personnel on the sideline from the press box last season. Farmer said after the season he doesn't believe his actions played into offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's decision to leave the team.
"I respect the league's decision and understand that there are consequences for my actions," Farmer said in a statement. "Accountability is integral to what we are trying to build and as a leader I need to set the right example. I made a mistake and apologize to Jimmy Haslam, Mike Pettine, our entire organization and our fans for the ramifications. Learning is a big part of who I am and I will certainly be better from this situation."
Farmer is the first general manager to be suspended by the NFL since Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was banned eight games in 2012 for his role in the team's bounty scandal.
Cleveland was not the only franchise punished Monday. The NFL fined the Falcons $350,000 and docked the team a 2016 fifth-round pick for pumping in crowd noise into the Georgia Dome. Team president Rich McKay also will be suspended at least three months from the Competition Committee.
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