As the low hum of #DeflateGate continues to permeate the NFL, the league office has issued a reminder to all teams that relates to another of the 2015 offseason controversies: The Falcons’ use of artificial crowd noise in 2013 and 2014.
The connection between the two incidents coincidentally comes from the fact that NFL V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil’s name appears at the bottom of the email sent Wednesday to all teams regarding the 2015 Video Board and Crowd Noise Policies.
Per a source with knowledge of the pre-existing rules, the email reflects no new provisions or procedures. But the reminder regarding the policies regarding the use of sound and video during a game carry a little more weight this year given that the Falcons deliberately defied the rules — and were caught doing it.
The Falcons ultimately lost a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 and paid a fine of $350,000 for the infraction, a penalty that doesn’t really seem to provide much of a deterrent given the potential benefits of disrupting the opposing offense with a level of noise that removes its inherent advantage of hearing the snap count.
Owner Arthur Blank has explained that the Patriots faced a much greater punishment for what arguably was a lesser infraction because they “failed to acknowledge” what they had done. Of course, the difference is that the Patriots denied deflating footballs — and the evidence of their guilt is far less compelling than the evidence against the Falcons, which was sufficiently clear that they didn’t even try to deny it.
Still, with the punishment being a future late-round pick, a mid-six-figure fine, and a three-month suspension for the team CEO from a voluntary committee but not from his job, other teams may be tempted to roll the dice on cranking up the decibels in the hopes of getting an advantage. Then again, without a well-connected CEO who possibly lobbied the league office to go easy on the Falcons, the next team to be caught using artificial crowd noise could end up facing the kind of punishment that would serve as a much stronger deterrent moving forward.