The National Football League (NFL) fined the Atlanta Falcons $350,000 and forfeited a fifth-round draft pick on March 30 for pumping in crowd noise over the course of the last two seasons.
The National Football League (NFL) has come down hard on the Atlanta Falcons for piping in artificial crowd noise.
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According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter, the league fined the Falcons $350,000 and forfeited a fifth-round draft pick for 2016 for the violation. Should Atlanta have multiple picks in that round, the highest selection will be given up.
Ledbetter cites the NFL rule which the Falcons violated. It says, "At no point during the game can artificial crowd noise or amplified crowd noise be played in the stadium." The team acknowledged violating the rule during the 2013 and 2014 NFL seasons.
The NFL informed the Falcons in Nov. 2014 they broke the rule, per Lebetter.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report identifies former director of event marketing Roddy White (not to be confused with the current Falcons wide receiver) as the party responsible. He allegedly used an audio file with artificial crowd noise. White, who is no longer with the team, would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 NFL season.
Should White be hired by another NFL team, "he may be required to serve some or all of this suspension," says Ledbetter.
Ledbetter adds Falcons management, including team president Rich McKay, was unaware of White's actions. The NFL suspended McKay from its Competition Committee beginning April 1 for his failure to ensure White--and all Falcons employees under him for that matter--comply with league rules.
McKay can apply for reinstatement "no sooner than June 30," Ledbetter stresses. USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones notes McKay has been serving on the competition committee for 22 years.
Jones obtained a statement from NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent explaining McKay's role:
"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.
"However, Mr. McKay, as the senior club executive overseeing game operations, bears some responsibility for ensuring that team employees comply with league rules."
For his part, Falcons owner Arthur Blank issued a statement on the matter on the team's official website on Monday. He makes it clear the Falcons will not appeal the verdict:
"What took place was wrong and nowhere near the stands by which we run our business. 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.
"The league conducted a thorough investigation of this matter, and we cooperated fully. We understand the penalties imposed and their impact on our team, and we will not appeal the league's decisions. Further, we have addressed the matter internally and taken actions to ensure that something like this does not happen again.
"The Falcons and all of our other businesses are built upon a foundation of values that drive our decision making. This issue was a clear failure in that regard. I apologize for any embarrassment this situation has caused the NFL, our fans, and our Falcons players and associates."
Blank labeled the Falcons' situation as "embarrassing" last month, per ESPN.
Prior to the Falcons losing a draft pick, the last team to experience this was the New Orleans Saints for their controversial bounty scandal. The league forfeited New Orleans' second-round picks in 2012 and 2013 as a result, according to ESPN.
The very first team to give up a draft pick was the Oakland Raiders in 1980 -- a fourth-rounder for evasion of player limit. Since then, the league has forfeited a total of 16 draft choices, per ESPN Stats & Information.
The Falcons have a combined 6-10 (.375) record at the Georgia Dome in 2013 and 2014, per USA Today.
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