Ray Farmer apologizes to Browns fans, staff for sending impermissible text messages


INDIANAPOLIS -- Browns general manager Ray Farmer opened his Thursday press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine with an apology for his involvement in sending impermissible text messages during games this past season.

"First and foremost, I would like to extend an apology to the Cleveland Browns fans," Farmer said. "So that everybody hears it from my mouth, it was me. To that degree, I have apologized to the people in the building: Coach (Mike) Pettine, Jimmy Haslam, the rest of the football staff and everybody that was involved from our side as far as football-wise that they understand what happened.

"It is an open investigation from the league's perspective, so there's not a lot of comments there. I take full responsibility for myself and my actions and the things I've learned from that is that there are and there is a platform to have those conversations and have those things talked about and discussed. I misplayed that platform. Something I've learned from and something I'll be better at and I've corrected that mistake."

Echoing what Pettine said Wednesday, Farmer said his relationship with the Browns coach was strong and they've worked through the incident with multiple, open conversations. To explain how it happened, he relayed what Pettine told reporters Wednesday, that his emotions got the best of him.

"I would describe our organization as a healthy one," Farmer said. "I would describe it as healthy because we do have platforms where you can discuss those things openly and honestly and we can have direct conversations. A large part of those conversations are candid. Guys are able to speak their minds. Granted I'm the general manager, but I'm an open book. I tell people the truth with how I feel and where I'm at and I think we get that expressed readily through the organization from coaches to scouts, etc. Our organization is really good on that."

Farmer and the Browns are going through the waiting process with the NFL as it wraps up its investigation into the incident. It hasn't delayed the team's offseason planning and strategizing in the slightest, Farmer said.

"We're moving full steam ahead," Farmer said.

Last week, Haslam voiced his support for Farmer and reaffirmed his confidence in the general manager, who assumed his current position shortly before last year's Combine. Farmer said the support came at a good time and was "very helpful" as he tuned out the external noise and locked in on Combine preparations and the Browns' ongoing plans for free agency.

"Jimmy is a good man, he's a really good owner," Farmer said. "To that degree, his support was monumental at least for me personally … It was really good on my behalf to hear Jimmy's comments."

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