Browns fined, GM suspended for texts to sideline during games

Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer has been suspended four games for texting coaches during games in 2014 and the team was fined $250,000.

The NFL announced Monday that Farmer is suspended without pay for the team’s first four regular-season games of 2015. The Browns will not lose any draft picks, according to NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent.

Farmer will be permitted to stay in his current capacity through the rest of the offseason, including working the NFL draft and being involved when the Browns cut down to their 53-player roster.

During his suspension, Farmer can’t be involved in any team matters and is not permitted to be at the team’s facilities or games.

“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,” the NFL said in its statement.

Last month, Farmer opened his press conference with an apology and an admission to texting during games in violation of the league’s electronic device policy. He said the “mistake” was humbling.

Farmer said nobody asked him anything, he was not replying to any text messages, and takes full responsibility for sending in-game texts.

“Even though it’s not a positive, it’s not something I’m proud of, it’s not a badge or something I’m wearing, but I’m definitely trying to take the positive out of it,” Farmer said last week. “What did I learn? How am I better? And then how does this help me moving forward?”

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has said he stands firmly behind Farmer.

Farmer has not revealed who he texted, but ESPN sources and reports have said the texts went to an assistant coach and an unnamed team representative on the sideline and that the texts dealt with in-game strategy and use of personnel. Farmer sent text messages throughout most of the season, according to ESPN.

The full NFL statement from Vincent on the Browns matter:

“The use of a cell phone on multiple occasions during games in 2014 by Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer was a violation of NFL rules that prohibit certain uses of electronic devices during games. Based on these violations, the Browns have been fined $250,000 and Ray Farmer will be suspended without pay for the first four regular-season games of the 2015 season. The suspension will start on midnight of the Sunday preceding the Browns’ first regular-season game and will end immediately after the Browns’ fourth regular-season game. During the period of the suspension, Farmer cannot be involved in any club matters and is prohibited from being at the Browns’ offices, practice facility, or at Browns games.

“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.

“We appreciate the courtesy and cooperation the Browns organization extended during our inquiry.”

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