Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision

The Falcons' heirarchy (Thomas Dimitroff, Arthur Blank, new coach Dan Quinn and Rich McKay) will take a hit from the NFL. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

The Falcons’ hierarchy (Thomas Dimitroff, Arthur Blank, new coach Dan Quinn and Rich McKay) will take a hit from the NFL. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

(UPDATED: 12: 30 p.m.)

Having failed to provide their fans with a reason to cheer in the last two years, the Falcons did what they believed was the next best thing: They funneled in fake crowd noise.

When you consider the team has been funneling in fake pass rushers for years, the decision sort of fit in with the organizational philosophy.

Didn’t work. They’re going to pay a price. They should — for stupidity, if nothing else.

Team officials finally heard from the NFL Monday following a lengthy investigation into the fake noise issue in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

• The team will lose a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, not 2015. As reported in this corner of the blogosphere last week, there was foreshadowing for that when the league released the full draft order before the announcement of any penalties for potential infractions by the Falcons, New England and Cleveland. The Falcons much preferred losing a pick this year, when theoretically the pick would be higher than in 2016. They also have more time to prepare for a lost pick next year.

•  The Falcons will be fined $350,000. For Blank, that’s breakfast. Maybe dinner.

•  Team president and CEO Rich McKay will be suspended from the NFL’s competition committee for a period of three months (April 1 to June 30). While McKay may not have directly approved the plan by the team’s marketing department and/or stadium operations personnel to funnel fake noise through the Georgia Dome’s loudspeakers, he oversees the Falcons’ non-football operations. So McKay accepting a suspension from the powerful competition committee, of which he has been a member for years, would be a way to appease the league.

• Roddy White (not that one), the team’s former director of event marketing, has been found responsible for the fake noise violation. He would’ve been suspended for the first half of the season but he was fired. (A suspension could carry over if he is hired by another team.)

Here’s the NFL’s full statement on the penalties:

“The Atlanta Falcons have acknowledged the use of pre-recorded crowd noise in violation of NFL rules during home games throughout the 2013 season and into the 2014 season until the club was notified last November that the violation had been identified. The rule states that ‘at no point during the game can artificial crowd noise or amplified crowd noise be played in the stadium.’ Based on the full record, the Falcons have been fined $350,000 and will forfeit their fifth-round selection in the 2016 Draft. If the Falcons have multiple picks in that round, the highest selection will be forfeited.

Our review concluded that Roddy White, the team’s former director of event marketing, was directly responsible for the violation. Mr. White would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 regular season had he still been with the club. If Mr. White obtains employment with another NFL team during the 2015 season, he may be required to serve some or all of this suspension.

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. As a result, Mr. McKay will be suspended from the Competition Committee beginning April 1. He may petition Commissioner Goodell for reinstatement to the committee no sooner than June 30.

Here’s Blank’s statement on the penalties:

“What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards 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.”

News of the league’s investigation first broke during the Super Bowl and had dragged on for several weeks. The Falcons should feel fortunate now that there is closure and they won’t lose a draft pick this year.

The focus now should be: Real pass rushers, real team and real noise.


Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks
— AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good)
— MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players
— AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year?
— MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be
— AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets
— MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing
— MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be
— AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament
— MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline
— AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia
— AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory
— AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again
— MyAJC: Column on Quinn, Dimitroff defending moves, philosophy
— AJC: Exclusive: Q&A with Quinn, Dimitroff on Falcons’ moves
— MyAJC: Tech’s candidate pool may be thin if Gregory fired
— AJC: Tech’s decision on Brian Gregory tougher than you might think
— MyAJC: Georgia erratic but ceiling high in tournament
— AJC: NCAA tourney: Dogs should be in, Panthers must do a little more
— MyAJC: Georgia State at center of state’s hoops’ rebirth
— AJC: Jim Boeheim’s arrogance catches up to him
— AJC: Erving says Hawks should do better job embracing their history
— MyAJC: Hank Aaron knows exactly how Dominique Wilkins feels
— MyAJC: Despite loss, Fox has Georgia pointed in right direction
— AJC: Mark Fox deserved contract extension (which he finally signed)
— AJC: Falcons, Ndamukong Suh and waiting on fake noise penalty
— AJC: Falcons’ payroll slash continues — Blalock, Douglas released
— AJC: Steven Jackson expected to be missing piece, but he wasn’t
— MyAJC: Can Kevin Seitzer avoid being Braves’ next scapegoat
— AJC: Freeman on ’14 roster: Heyward leading off not well-constructed lineup
— MyAJC: By any name, Braves need a different Upton
— AJC: How long should Braves give Upton to show improvement?
— MyAJC: Braves have issues but McDowell not one of them

 

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
patriotdog
patriotdog

atlanta gets the shaft again. Arthur should be better friends with Kraft and Goodell.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Seriously, how can 1 city produce so many teams that suck so badly, are managed so stupidly, lose big games so consistently, fail so miserably and consistently to fulfill their promise? Really, how? It is truly amazing.


At least one thing fits: in a city of consistently limp and incompetent teams, management and ownership, we have sports bloggers dimwitted enough to perfectly match our on-court, on-field complete uselessness.


Idiots all.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

That 350 grand would be just about enough to pay for a couple extra Urinals in the owner's box so Blank says piss on it!............lol

UGA76
UGA76

Let's hope that the 3 Stooges are gone after this year and Mr. Blank hires a GM that knows football. That would make losing a pick in 2016 less of an issue. 

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

The beginning of your article makes no sense.  So the Falcons are expecting an even WORSE record in 2015 leading to picking higher than 8th in the 5th round of 2016??   Why the heck would they want the pick to be taken this year and not next?  
The Falcons accomplished what they needed and what all the smart fans wanted...  landed a top 10 pick for the O line, and a top 10 pick for the Defense.   Lets hope the loosing is over!  

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Anybody that thinks this didn't have Arthur Blanks fingerprints all over it has a screw loose. He totally signed off on this and then paid this guy off handsomely to be the fall guy. If you think anything other than this you're an idiot. Blank is to the Falcons what Richard Nixon was to the White House!

Archangel
Archangel

@TreeRollins No, Blank owns the Falcons, Nixon was an elected official and that has nothing to do with this.

I'm sorry, but it seems like you've been traumatized by Watergate and now you think every major situation is the same. The fact that you consider anyone who disagrees with you an idiot is proof of your condition.

I suggest you seek help with your trust issues and continue to root for your favorite team.

TrueFalconFan
TrueFalconFan

@Archangel @TreeRollins --- Yoo "Arch"Angel Wing,,, back the bus up "Otis" --- this is Gabriel your BIG brother "umHELLO" --- hold-on there baby brother could be about 5" of similarities here which is the "space" between your ears Archie baby.... Relax who really cares.


Go Falcons 

Wilbo
Wilbo

Did you have to put the stooge Artie Blank's pic back up?


chalkdawg4
chalkdawg4

Good luck on selling PSls to go to the ghetto.

ATLFan
ATLFan

IMO, the real reason that the Falcons pumped in noise is because they were embarrassed at the other team's fans were louder.

ATLFan
ATLFan

IMO, the real reason that the Falcons pumped in noise is because they were embarrassed at the other team's fans were louder.

TOJacket
TOJacket

I would love to meet the 2 fans with the cute bags on their heads.............so I could slap them off their heads!

Floppy
Floppy

Pump up the volume, Pump up the volume, Pump up the volume...



he_of_stinky_wind
he_of_stinky_wind

Will McKay's spot on the competition committee be filled by someone from the Patriots organization?

atlfanman
atlfanman

I thought the news of the penalties were suppose to be announced on Tuesday. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "we could have a press conference or we could just leak it out."

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Not much else can be said about this group.  Feel bad for he new coach.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

The focus now should be: Real pass rushers, real team and real noise.


Yep, they have been a REAL farce the past few years. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

It could've been worse.

They should trade down in draft for more picks, regardless of the outcome of noisegate.

They need as many picks possible and hope some turn out to be decent players. It's a crap shoot.

Best thing is to increase your odds with more picks.

RangeRover
RangeRover

While I generally find the Falcons to have lost their way as an organization with a tepid, puppet-like GM, a powerless President (what does McKay actually do with the title of President?) and an owner who is your classic number 2 guy (his wealth was luckily drawn from riding shotgun with Bernie Marcus) trying to act like a CEO, way too intimately involved, and looks for the camera and microphone, they handled this embarrassing buffoonery about as well as they could:  they were wrong, boldly admitted such, and will pay the price without an appeal.

As for Goodell, only your standard, capitalist hating liberals on here like to wail away at his methods.  He simply is the very best commissioner in sports, one of the best ever, and how much the NFL has grown more under his leadership in wealth and popularity is the most in any other 8.5 years in not just the NFL but any other major sport in history.

Sure, he's had a couple of bumps here and there, and openly admitted to having wished he'd handled one (Ray Rice) more swiftly and much better.  But, at least the man had the care and decency to admit when he could have better handled a highly charged issue.

twentysixpointtwo
twentysixpointtwo

Here are Dimitroff's 5th Round selections.  It's easy to see that losing a 5th round draft choice based on Dimitroff's  history will be far less than crippling.


'14     Ricardo Allen, Marquis Spruill

'13     Stansly Mapunga

'12     Brady Ewing, Johnathan Massaquoi

'11     Jaquizz Rodgers

'10     Dominque Franks, Kerry Mier

'09     Garrett Reynolds

'08     Kroy Bierman, Robert James 

BLowE12
BLowE12

@twentysixpointtwo I KNEW his picks were bad in the 5th but that bad?? There are ONLY MAYBE two guys on that whole list that belong on a roster. And one is from last years draft! lol

aon
aon

Will someone please counsel Dimitroff on that hair?  It is such a distraction.  He looks like he's been standing in front of a high velocity fan and it makes it really hard to take him seriously.

gfw
gfw

@aon His hair last time I saw him was a lot worse than in this photo...sort of spiky (gelled, I guess).  I hope he keeps his hair (including especially his facial hair) just like it is.  It allows everyone to see what kind of a guy he is right off the bat.  Kind of "truth in advertising."

RangeRover
RangeRover

"The Falcons much preferred losing a pick this year, when theoretically the pick would be higher than in 2016."

I think you omitted the word "not" in there somewhere, Jeff.

BLowE12
BLowE12

@RangeRover Wow, that would be the first time This Fish Wrap has had a misquote, Misspelling or misinterpretations.

JSSN
JSSN

"Appropriate penalties?" Man please, they thumbed their noses at the League for two seasons. Once again Roger Goodell and his minions have proved they are paper tigers.

JSSN
JSSN

@Floppy 

What you got against 'Old Yeller?' But at least get your animation studios right.

'Rashomon' go look it up.

As for MacMurray'Flubber.' 

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

Suspended from the competition committee the three months there is none. Hardee-Har-Har.

Wonder if there were two Julio Jones employed, you know the one that works for his check and the one that gets paid....

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

@BostonBullDawg                       Arthur Blank is not very wise.

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Wilbo
Wilbo

@AlwaysReady   Arthur Blank is a complete imbecile. And stupid looking to boot in his ridiculous Little Lord Fauntleroy costume. Jackadze.