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NFL punishes Falcons and Browns for rule violations

Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer answers a

Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer answers a question during a news conference at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. Credit: AP / David J. Phillip

Two "Gates" have been closed. One big one remains open.

While the NFL punished the Falcons and the Browns Monday for breaking league rules -- the Falcons pumped artificial noise into the Georgia Dome during games in 2013 and 2014; Browns general manager Ray Farmer sent texts from the press box to the sideline -- the investigation into the violation that has created the most buzz continues.

It's been more than two months since the NFL began looking into "DeflateGate," the Patriots' use of underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Attorney Ted Wells is heading that investigation.

The Falcons and Browns drew fines and suspensions; the Falcons also lost a draft pick.

The Falcons acknowledged using prerecorded crowd noise. They were fined $350,000 and will forfeit a fifth-round pick in 2016. The league found the Falcons' front office had no knowledge of the practice, but it suspended team president Rich McKay from the competition committee, for which he was a co-chairman. He is eligible to apply for reinstatement June 30.

The league said the Falcons' former director of event marketing, Roddy White, was responsible for the noise violation. If he had not been fired by the team, he would have been suspended without pay for eight weeks. (He is not to be confused with the Falcons receiver of the same name.)

The Browns were fined $250,000, and Farmer is suspended without pay for the first four weeks of the regular season. The NFL said it found that neither ownership nor any other team executives knew of his actions.

New York Sports