The Atlanta Falcons will forfeit a fifth-round draft pick in the 2016 draft and the team has been fined $350,000 as punishment for artificially pumping in crowd noise during home games in 2013 and 2014, the NFL announced.
The NFL also has suspended Falcons president Rich McKay from his role as chairman of the league’s competition committee effective April 1. McKay, who has served on the competition committee for 22 years, cannot apply for reinstatement until June 30.
The league’s investigation into the crowd noise issue began last November, and revealed that team’s former event marketing director, Roddy White, used an audio file with fake crowd noise to make it louder inside the Georgia Dome, which is a direct violation of a rule that prohibits artificial crowd noise. White is no longer with the Falcons.
“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,” NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent said in a statement Monday.
The Falcons went 3-5 in home games in both 2013 and 2014.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement on Monday that the team will not appeal the punishment.
“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,” Blank said. “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.”