Berea, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer was suspended four games by the NFL on Monday for violating rules prohibiting the use of electronic devices during games.
Farmer used a cell phone during games last season to send text messages to the sideline. He admitted to the mistakes during the NFL Scouting Combine in February and will now have to serve a four-game penalty.
The suspension, without pay, will begin at the start of the regular season. Farmer cannot be involved in any club matters and is prohibited from being at the team's offices, practice facility or at Browns games.
"I respect the league's decision and understand that there are consequences for my actions," said Farmer in a statement Monday. "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 (owner) Jimmy Haslam, (head 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."
The Browns, despite the league finding that no other members of the team's ownership or front office were involved, were also fined $250,000.
"We accept the league's ruling," said Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. "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."
Farmer, while speaking with media members at the NFL Combine last month, said he had spoken with Pettine about the situation and there were no issues between them.
However, it had been reported that the texting issue may have contributed to the resignation of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan shortly after the conclusion of the season.
Northeast Ohio Media Group had reported that the texts from Farmer to the sideline included ideas on play-calling and personnel.