With the 2014 season long in the rear view mirror, and the announcement of new head coach Dan Quinn expected soon, things were looking good for the Atlanta Falcons to bring a fresh start into the 2015 calendar year. Unfortunately, just hours prior to the kickoff of Superbowl XLIX, Adam Schefter announced that the Falcons were under investigation for the use of artificial noise in the Georgia Dome when the opposition were on offense.
"Falcons being investigated for piping artificial crowd noise into their stadium the past two seasons, per sources. The offense is expected to result in discipline with the Falcons being fined and quite possibly losing a draft choice. A Falcons team spokesman said: “We were informed during the season that the league office is looking into crowd noise during our games. We have cooperated fully with them, and we’re awaiting the outcome.” Atlanta is accused of piping in the noise while the opposing team was huddling, trying to call its play. The tactics originated from the Falcons’ game operations department, per sources. Some around the league have argued that silent counts have rendered crowd noise more irrelevant and it’s difficult to discern how much of an advantage it gave the Falcons. But it was enough to have the league look into it, and now the Falcons are facing stiff penalties. – Adam Schefter"
Whilst the statement suggests that an investigation is ongoing, the general attitude towards the announcement is that Atlanta will likely face a fine as a minimum punishment. While no concrete punishment is in place, the loss of draft pick would be a huge blow to an organisation looking to move in a new direction, but the severity, or even the existence, of the offense has yet to be fully determined. Several teams have been accused of piping in artificial noise in the past and, most recently, the 2007 Colts were found innocent of a similar offense. Blogging Dirty will keep you up to date with the investigation as new information comes to light.