NFL Investigating Reported Text Messages Sent to Cleveland Browns Sideline

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2015

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The NFL is investigating reports that Browns general manager Ray Farmer was sending text messages to the sideline during games. 

Continue for updates.

Farmer Apologizes for Texts

Thursday, Feb. 19

Browns GM Ray Farmer apologized for his role in the texting scandal on Thursday, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:  

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

Ray Farmer opens up his presser with an apology to Browns fans regarding the texting situation. "I take full responsibility for my actions."

Mary Kay Cabot @MaryKayCabot

#Browns Farmer said he's owning the texts: "Sometimes your emotions get the best of you.''

Browns Owner Speaks About Farmar Sending Texts

Wednesday, Feb. 11

Pat McManamon of ESPN.com and Steve Doerschuk provided comments from Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam, who commented on Farmar's role in the Bronws' improper use of text messages:

PatMcManamon @PatMcManamon

In meeting with beat writers, Jimmy Haslam says GM Ray Farmer admitted sending the text messages, but will not affect status with #Browns

Steve Doerschuk @sdoerschukREP

Haslam on backing GM to hilt: "At the end of the day we are comfortable with Ray's body of work ... very comfortable."

Tom Withers of the Associated Press provided more details from Haslam on Farmar's remorse:

Tom Withers @twithersAP

Haslam said he fully supports Farmer, who "feels terrible about his mistake. .. . It eats at him every day." #Browns

Details Emerge in Browns Text Message Investigation

Thursday, Feb. 5

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported details on who Browns general manager Ray Farmer was texting, and how the league will determine punishment:

A league source has told PFT that the messages actually went to a non-coaching employee on the sidelines, who then relayed the information to a member of the coaching staff.

And while the messages may have been actually sent by Farmer (or at a minimum with his phone), the real question is whether Farmer did it on his own or whether he did so with the knowledge or at the direction of folks above him in the organization. Such as, for example, the owner of the team.

On Feb. 4, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that Farmer was the employee sending the texts, and what punishments he could face for sending text messages to the sideline during games:

Multiple league sources have told NEOMG that Farmer was the high-ranking personnel member who violated the NFL's electronic use policy by the impermissible texting. Those messages were then apparently relayed to the coaches.

The NFL investigated the improper texts, and are prepared to announce sanctions within the next couple of weeks. A resolution could come as early as this week, but probably no later than three weeks.

Farmer is facing a multigame suspension -- as many as three or four games -- and the Browns are facing the loss of a draft pick if the probe, conducted by in-house NFL executives, shows that Farmer acted improperly.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports further details Farmer's text message transgressions:

'And, sources tell me, that it was not unusual for him to call and/or text former Browns quarterback coach Dowell Loggains in the coaches box during game days and that the NFL's investigation into the matter would certainly reveal as much. (Farmer, who worked under draconian Scott Pioli in Kansas City, seems to have adopted some of his mentor's ways).' 

Browns Investigated for In-Game Texts

Friday, Jan. 9 

The National Football League is investigating reports concerning members of the Cleveland Browns organization sending text messages to the sideline during games, which would be a violation of the league's rules on electronic communication.

Pat McManamon of ESPN confirmed with league spokesman Michael Signora that the NFL was looking into the matter. No further comment was provided, however. He also noted it was a topic of conversation inside the Browns' locker room:

"Though it's not clear who sent the messages and who received them, a team source said the messages were subject of discussion among some players and coaches late in the season."

Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group previously reported there was a growing disconnect within the organization before the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

A source explained that led to at least one of the exchanges via text message. A disagreement over play-calling decisions was the apparent cause:

"The biggest problem, they say is that the personnel side and coaches aren't seeing eye to eye on some key issues. One source said some coaches became upset when a high-ranking personnel member texted from the press box to the sidelines about play calls."

Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland passed along a statement from the team regarding the ongoing investigation:

Daryl Ruiter @RuiterWrongFAN

Statement from #Browns re: NFL investigation into text “We are reviewing internally and will fully cooperate with the NFL on this matter”

Further details about the reported messages are scarce. It's also unclear how the messages were received and relayed on the sidelines, an area where electronic communication is barred. The ESPN report points out the only exception is the tablets used for reviewing in-game photos.

The other question would concern what type of punishment the Browns would face if it's found these messages were sent and received. More information should emerge once the league is able to conclude its inquiry into the matter.


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