NFL Opens Investigation Into Browns Text-Gate

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The NFL is investigating whether in-game text messages were sent to the Cleveland Browns sideline.

The NFL has officially started an investigation into text-gate. NFL League spokesperson Michal Signora disclosed to ESPN.com that the league has undergone an official inquiry into whether the browns sideline was sent text messages during games this past season. Cleveland.com initially reported that texts were sent and that it played a role in the departure of Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan viewed the texts as an intrusion into the team’s in-game decision making.

It has not become clear who sent or received the messages nor have any of the messages been made public to this point. However, the team source noted that the messages content pertained to personnel decisions and play calling. The source also reported that the messages had become a point of discussion among players and coaches in the final weeks of the season.

The narrative on the subject and information accessible at this point indicates that a non-coaching employee was sending text messages to the sideline with play call propositions. All of the facts have not come to the forefront but with the NFL announcing its official investigation, it has become another stain on the already disgraced Cleveland Browns organization. There is an almost comical irony in that less than a week ago GM Ray Farmer attempted to shield Owner Jimmy Haslam from the scrutiny of another irresponsible text message that was allegedly sent on Draft day to former quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains when he told him to “Pull the trigger” on disappointing 1st round quarterback selection Johnny Manziel.

If the NFL investigation deems that this inappropriate text messaging did occur the Browns will be found in violation of NFL rules which prohibits electronic communication during games:

“Unless specifically permitted by league rules, the use of cellular phones, smartphones, tablet devices, computers, wearable electronic devices such as Google Glass, and other electronic equipment by coaches, players and other club personnel is prohibited in club-controlled areas including, but not limited to, sidelines and coaches’ booths.

“These restrictions apply from ninety (90) minutes prior to kickoff through the end of the game, including halftime. Coaches, players, and other team personnel are permitted to use such electronic devices in the locker room prior to kickoff and are permitted to use league-issued Microsoft Surface tablets throughout game day for viewing coaches’ still photos.”

Former Atlanta Falcons HC Jim Mora was fined $25,000 dollars in 2006 when he used a cell phone to find out what the playoff implications of a tie game were during an overtime game. It is conceivable that the Browns potential infraction could be perceived as a more serious violation. The Browns have 10 draft picks in the 2015 draft which is only pertinent because we have seen the NFL penalize teams in violation of its rules with the loss of draft picks in the past.

Whether this comes to that kind of a punishment is unclear but implications could be major. The Browns would be prudent to take some sort of action at this point whether it be a statement or press conference. They should attempt to resolve this with the NFL as expeditiously as possible.

By: Brad Ward

Follow @CST_BradWard

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