The Atlanta Falcons have been punished for pumping in crowd noise to their stadium.
The NFL fined the Falcons $350,000 and the franchise will forfeit their fifth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, the league announced Monday. President Rich McKay will also be suspended for at least three months from the Competition Committee beginning April 1.
As the chairman of the Competition Committee, McKay is one of the most influential executives in the NFL -- as evidenced by his large role in the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. The suspension serves notice to any other teams trying to use crowd noise to their advantage.
"Our review also determined that Falcons ownership and senior executives, including team President Rich McKay, were unaware of Mr. White's use of an audio file with artificial crowd noise," the NFL said in a statement. "However, Mr. McKay, as the senior club executive overseeing game operations, bears some responsibility for ensuring that team employees comply with league rules. As a result, Mr. McKay will be suspended from the Competition Committee beginning April 1. He may petition Commissioner (Roger) Goodell for reinstatement to the committee no sooner than June 30."
The Falcons were not the only team to be punished Monday as the Browns were fined $250,000 and general manager Ray Farmer was suspended four games for his violation of the NFL's electronic device policy.
Losing a draft pick will punish the organization on the field in the future, but it won't affect the eight picks Atlanta currently owns in the 2015 draft.
In a statement Monday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank -- who previously referred to the investigation as "embarrassing" for his organization -- said he will not appeal the NFL's decision and has taken steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.
"What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards by which we run our business," Blank said. "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."
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