Falcons lose 2016 draft pick, receive fine for piping artificial noise into stadium
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons were fined $350,000 on Monday and lost a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 for their role in piping artificial noise in the Georgia Dome during games in 2013 and 2014.
Team president Rich McKay was also suspended from the NFL’s competition committee.
“What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards by which we run our business," team owner Arthur Blank said in a press release Monday. "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 Falcons were reportedly notified at the owners’ meeting last week of what their discipline would be. The team decided to wait until the NFL’s official notice before commenting.
“The League conducted a thorough investigation of this matter, and we cooperated fully," said Blank. "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.”
For two seasons Atlanta used artificial noise during games in an effort to create confusion while opposing teams were trying to call plays.
The Falcons were 3-5 in 2013 at home, and 3-4 (Atlanta played a "home" game in London against the Detroit Lions) last season. It’s abundantly clear that the home team didn’t benefit greatly from the extra noise as only six wins came in those seasons in the Georgia Dome.
The NFL said the Falcons cooperated fully during the investigation. Upon completion, it was deemed that one person acted alone in piping in the artificial noise and that no one in the Falcons front office or ownership group had knowledge of the situation.
"Our review concluded that Roddy White, the team’s former director of event marketing, was directly responsible for the violation," NFL executive VP Troy Vincent said in a press release. "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."
Even though McKay had no knowledge of White’s action, he was punished by the NFL.
Mr. McKay, as the senior club executive overseeing game operations, bears some responsibility for ensuring that team employees comply with league rules," said Vincent. "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."
Atlanta still has eight picks in the upcoming 2015 NFL draft:
First round: Eighth overall selection
Second round: 10th pick in round, 42nd overall selection
Third round: ninth pick in round, 73rd overall selection
Fourth round: Eighth pick in round, 107th overall selection
Fifth round: 10th pick in round, 146th overall selection
Sixth round: ninth pick in round, 185th overall selection
Seventh round: Eighth pick in round, 225th overall selection
Seventh round: 32d pick in round, 249th overall selection (originally owned by the Patriots, traded to the Rams who traded it to the Falcons)