INDIANAPOLIS – The Cleveland Browns believe everything about what’s come to be known as "TextGate" is over — except the NFL’s punishment.
Speaking Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine for the first time since reports pegged him as the guilty party, Browns general manager Ray Farmer took the blame and publicly apologized to team owner Jimmy Haslam, head coach Mike Pettine and the team’s fan base.
"I messed up," Farmer said. "People understand what the rules are. In my case, I would tell you that it’s not an excuse, but sometimes your emotions get the best of you."
Farmer sending text messages to members of the Browns coaching staff during games — it’s not clear whether the messages went to the sideline, the coaching booth, or both — violates NFL policy on game day communication. The NFL has announced punishment for the team or for Farmer.
Farmer said he did not have to turn his phone over to the NFL investigators with whom he spoke. He said he’s taken "full responsibility," publicly and privately, and that he "misplayed the platform. I’ve corrected that mistake."
In six weeks since the season ended, the Browns have seen 2014 first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel check himself into a rehabilitation facility, wide receiver Josh Gordon get suspended for at least a year after violating terms of his post-DUI deal with the NFL by drinking with teammates and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan resign.
Pettine admitted Wednesday he "wasn’t thrilled" with the news of the texting incident when he heard of it, but said he and Farmer have talked and are focused on the future.
Farmer said he and Pettine "have no relationship mending (to do). Coach Pettine and I work really well together. We’re going full speed ahead. Mike firmly believes in who I am as a person and that I have the Browns best interests at heart."