Prior to the latest NFL non-mutual “mutual parting,” this one involving the Browns and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, a report emerged that Shanahan’s concerns about the team included a claim that a “high-ranking personnel member texted from the press box to the sidelines about play calls.”
PFT has been unable to determine the identity of the “high-ranking personnel member” (and/or whether that person was in any way influenced by a homeless man), but PFT has confirmed that it happened. Which creates a separate issue for the Browns, because those types of electronic communications are prohibited during games.
“Unless specifically permitted by League rules, the use of cellular phones, smart phones, tablet devices, computers, wearable electronic devices such as Google Glass, and other electronic equipment by coaches, players, and other club personnel is prohibited in club-controlled areas including, but not limited to, sidelines and coaches’ booths,” the league’s electronic devices rule states. “These restrictions apply from ninety (90) minutes prior to kickoff through the end of the game, including halftime. Coaches, players, and other team personnel are permitted to use such electronic devices in the locker room prior to kickoff and are permitted to use League-issued Microsoft Surface tablets throughout game day for viewing coaches’ still photos.”
So the sending and receiving of text messages to the sidelines regarding play calls or anything else during a game violates that rule. In 2006, former Falcons coach Jim Mora was fined $25,000 for using a cell phone during a game.
“Expensive phone call,” Mora said at the time. “Consider that a lesson learned.”
The Falcons and the Buccaneers had been tied late in overtime on December 24, 2005, and Mora made the call to determine how a tie would affect the Falcons’ playoff hopes.
So if that type of communication is prohibited, sending and receiving text messages on the sidelines also is prohibited. The question now becomes how extensively members of the Browns organization not on the sidelines have been communicating electronically with members of the coaching staff, and whether the league will investigate and dole out fines accordingly.