Atlanta Falcons team president Rich McKay has been reinstated as chairman of the NFL’s powerful Competition Committee, the league said Thursday, after a nearly five-month suspension for the use of artificial noise at the Georgia Dome during games.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made the decision after meeting with McKay in New York on Wednesday, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
Even though he wasn’t directly involved in breaking league rules, McKay was suspended from the influential committee, which considers rule changes, effective April 1. He had to wait at least three months before applying for reinstatement.
The league also fined the Falcons $350,000 and stripped the team of a fifth-round draft pick in 2016.
“I have always enjoyed my service on the Competition Committee and appreciate Commissioner Goodell’s confidence,” McKay said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with the committee and all of our teams to further improve our great game.”
The league said Roddy White, the team’s former director of event marketing, was directly responsible for the violation and would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 regular season had he still been with the club.
White, who has the same name but isn’t related to Atlanta’s star receiver, was fired by the Falcons after the issue came to light.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, said at the time that senior officials including McKay were unaware of White’s actions.
“However, Mr. McKay, as the senior club executive overseeing game operations, bears some responsibility for ensuring that team employees comply with league rules,” Vincent added.
The league said that throughout the 2013 season and into the 2014 season, the Falcons violated league rules that state “at no point during the game can artificial crowd noise or amplified crowd noise be played in the stadium.”
It wasn’t a big help to the team, which has gone 10-22 over the last two seasons and failed to make the playoffs.
Still, the incident was a huge embarrassment for owner Arthur Blank on top of firing long-time coach Mike Smith after last season and dealing with criticism over a pricey seat-licensing plan to help fund the team’s new $1.4 billion stadium, which opens in 2017.
Now, Blank is ready to move on.
“Rich has been a valued member of the NFL’s Competition Committee for 22 years, and he is recognized as a key contributor throughout the league,” the owner said. “I fully support his reinstatement to the committee.”