Time to put the Ray Farmer texting “scandal” on mute
Our long national nightmare is finally over as, after an investigation that dragged on for more than two months, the NFL has finally doled out its punishment on Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer for illegally texting coaches during games last season.
Farmer will be suspended without pay for the first four regular-season games of the season this fall and the team has been fined $250,000.
Most importantly, and despite a rush from many in the media to claim that NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell was going to drop the hammer on the Browns, the team will not lose any draft picks.
Finally, the league found “there was no evidence in the NFL’s review that Browns ownership or any other team executives had knowledge of the prohibited conduct.” So we’re sure that those media members who were so very, very sure that Farmer was taking the fall for someone else will be apologizing.
“I respect the league’s decision and understand that there are consequences for my actions. 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 Jimmy Haslam, 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.” – Ray Farmer, general manager
While it has been clear from the very beginning that the situation was being blown out of proportion, we’ll still never understand why Farmer did what he did. If he was unhappy about what was going on, it seems more prudent (and within the rules) to wait until after the game is over to bring it up to the coaches. Or, if he simply had to get things off his chest during the game, why not just poke his head into the coaches box and give the staff an earful?
Which brings us to another point that we find puzzling. There seems to be a prevailing feeling that criticizing or questioning the coaches was somehow a breech of etiquette by Farmer. How else to explain this passage from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who wrote that the text from Farmer “questioned jobs, embarrassed counterparts and exacerbated the well-worn dysfunction storyline in Cleveland.”
That’s possible, we suppose, but it seems unlikely that, as we said, Farmer is the only general manager to question something that happened on the field. Sure, he should have kept his concerns in-house, which in its own way he was doing via text, but we’re not sure how much of a long-lasting impact this will have within the halls of team headquarters in Berea.
It’s not as if the Browns are an alleged “vibrant franchise” that has to pump in fake crowd noise at home games because they have no fans. Or are willingly letting a playoff-caliber head coach enter this fall as a lame duck coach.
The Browns are the low-hanging fruit of the NFL, however, so it is easy enough to read doom and gloom into everything that surrounds the team. And things will stay that way until the team starts to win on a consistent basis.
Hopefully, now that the Farmer texting situation is behind them, everyone can get back to work on fixing the prevailing narrative surrounding the franchise.
“…but it seems unlikely that, as we said, Farmer is the only general manager to question something that happened on the field.”
This is the issue I’ve puzzled over since this story began: Is this a common or uncommon occurrence across the league? Did Farmer just start doing this on his own or did he witness those above him doing similar in previous stops on other teams? Was he just doing what he had been taught? I don’t know but Farmer seems intelligent and as a former player certainly understands the dynamics and internal goings-on of an NFL franchise. Whatever the truth may be in any given situation it’s unlikely to be revealed as our local “journalists” seem unwilling or uninterested in looking. As you said, we are the low hanging fruit of the NFL. Our public voice to fight back against or at least question that perception instead eagerly joins any/every flogging assuming every accusation is true because, you know…Browns.
The more I think about this the more I think that Farmer’s biggest crime was getting caught. We see owners on the sidelines all the time during games and there is little doubt that some of them are making their voices heard. And there is no way that an owner or GM hasn’t popped into the coaches box from time to time offer some “constructive criticism.” Farmer just made the mistake of doing it via an illegal method.
Having said that, he should have reserved his opinions for after the game or Monday morning so that he could present them to the coaches in the proper context. Hopefully he’s learned and moved on.