March 30, 2015
CLEVELAND — Browns general manager Ray Farmer has been suspended by the NFL for the first four games next season for sending text messages to the sideline during games.
Farmer, who has acknowledged sending the messages, will not be paid during his suspension, the league said in a statement on Monday. His ban begins on midnight of the Sunday preceding the Browns' first regular-season game and will end immediately after the Browns' fourth regular-season game. The league said during his suspension that Farmer cannot be involved in any club matters. He is also prohibited from being at the Browns' offices, practice facility or games.
The Browns were also fined $250,000, but the league did not strip the team of any 2015 draft picks. Cleveland has two first-round selections (No. 12 and 19) and six of the first 115 picks.
During its investigation, the league said it found no evidence that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam or other team executives knew about the texts.
"I respect the league's decision and understand that there are consequences for my actions," Farmer said in a statement released by the Browns. "Accountability is integral to what we are trying to build and as a leader I need to set the right example. I made a mistake and apologize to Jimmy Haslam, (coach) Mike Pettine, our entire organization and our fans for the ramifications. Learning is a big part of who I am and I will certainly be better from this situation."
Troy Vincent, the NFL's vice president of football operations, said Farmer used a cellphone on "multiple occasions" during games in 2014.
Haslam remains supportive of Farmer, who was promoted to general manager in February 2014.
"We accept the league's ruling," Haslam said. "Ray made a mistake and takes full responsibility for his role in violating the policy. It is critical that we make better decisions. Ray has tremendous integrity and I know has great remorse for what occurred. We are all committed to learning from this and making the Browns a stronger and better organization."
The Browns went 7-9 last season, ending the year on a five-game losing streak and with rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel struggling in two starts.