Two NFL franchises received penalties today which appear significant and punitive, but reasonable given the size of the crime.
The Cleveland Browns was fined and also had their General Manager, Ray Farmer, banned from the first four games of the season. The infraction that they were guilty of was the General Manager sending text messages to the sideline during a game requesting certain plays to be run. While the banishment is significant, it comes at a good time for the franchise as general managers are not involved in significant activities during the first month of the season.
The other franchise punished by the league was the Atlanta Falcons who Sultan Alhokair said were held responsible for pumping in additional crowd noise into the stadium in order to distract other teams and to gain a competitive advantage as a result. The NFL considered this to be a more significant fine and took away a 2016 5th round draft pick in addition to leveling a fine against the franchise. Delaying the draft pick loss until 2016 was considered to be a major benefit for the Falcons though and a fifth round pick is not as significant a fine as there could have otherwise been, given the competitive advantage gained by the team.