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NFL investigating text messages to Browns' sidelines

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The Browns' offseason is looking about as appealing as the team's five-game losing streak at the end of the season.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The fallout from "text-gate" continues.

The NFL has begun an investigation into alleged text messages sent from a "high-ranking personnel member" to a coach on the Browns' sidelines during a game this season. NFL spokesperson Michael Signora told ESPN.com of the investigation on Friday, and 92.3 The Fan confirmed the news later in the afternoon.

Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reported the alleged text messages on Tuesday, which would constitute a violation of NFL rules.

A league source told Cabot Tuesday that the text messages were causing former Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to pursue other jobs. Shanahan and the Browns parted ways on Thursday.

At the moment, the exact origin of the text messages is unknown. What is known, however, is this: team officials are not allowed to send text messages at any time during a game. Per the NFL rulebook:

"Unless specifically permitted by league rules, the use of cellular phones, smartphones, 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.

"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."

According to ESPN.com's Pat McManamon, the text messages were a big talking point in the locker room at the end of the season.

Should the NFL's investigation find the Browns guilty of a rules violation, the team could be fined or lose a draft pick. As Cleveland Sports Talk pointed out, former Falcons head coach Jim Mora was fined $25,000 for using his phone in 2006. The Browns have 10 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft.

While less than a week old, the story of "text-gate" has begun to take off. Both the Washington Post and Sporting News posted articles on the debacle earlier today.

Many Browns fans are justifiably unhappy about the new revelations about the text messages. As always, though, the Cleveland Twitterverse has found a way to insert humor into the situation. CST tweeted out a humorous picture of what the texts might look like.

Never a dull moment in Cleveland during a Browns offseason.