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Falcons lose 5th-round draft pick in 2016 for artificial crowd noise

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The Falcons will lose a pick in next year's draft for piping in crowd noise during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

The Atlanta Falcons will forfeit a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and be fined for "piping in" crowd noise during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the NFL announced on Monday.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent released a statement detailing the punishments for the Falcons, including the forfeiture of a 2016 draft pick and a $350,000 fine. A review of the team found that the Falcons ownership and senior executives were unaware of the violations and that one former team employee acted independently.

"Our review concluded that Roddy White, the team's former director of event marketing, was directly responsible for the violation," Vincent said. "Mr. White would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 regular season had he still been with the club. If Mr. White obtains employment with another NFL team during the 2015 season, he may be required to serve some or all of this suspension."

On Monday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank released a statement regarding the punishments and said that the team "will not appeal the league's decisions."

"What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards by which we run our business," Blank said. "Anytime there are actions that compromise the integrity of the NFL or threaten the culture of our franchise, as this issue did, they will be dealt with swiftly and strongly."

In February, Blank admitted to the artificial crowd noise inside the Georgia Dome and called the violation "embarrassing." He admitted that the added crowd noise could affect the fairness of the game and give the Falcons an unfair advantage:

''I think what we've done in 2013 and 2014 was wrong," Blank said. "Anything that affects the competitive balance and fairness on the field, we're opposed to, as a league, as a club and as an owner. It's obviously embarrassing but beyond embarrassing it doesn't represent our culture and what we're about.''

Another punishment from the NFL for the violation is a three-month suspension of Falcons president Rich McKay from the league's competition committee. McKay, 56, joined the Falcons in 2003 as president and general manager, but fills only the president role now after Thomas Dimitroff was named general manager in 2008. He serves as chairman for the competition committee and will be suspended from April 1 until June 30, meaning he will not serve on the committee when it is expected to decide on extra point proposals.

Notable draft pick sanctions during Roger Goodell's time as NFL commissioner include the loss of a first-round pick for the New England Patriots for videotaping opposing teams on the sideline, and the loss of two second-round picks for the New Orleans Saints for implementing a system of "bounties" for injuring opposing players.

The Cleveland Browns also received sanctions from the NFL on Monday for violation of the league's electronic device policy, including a suspension for general manager Ray Farmer, although the Browns were not docked a draft pick. If the Falcons acquire another fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the team will forfeit its highest selection.

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