Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita is angry with the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell.
Fujita feels he has been wronged by the league and Goodell for falsely accusing him of participating in former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ bounty program.
As a result of the accusations and three-game suspension, his reputation is tarnished forever.
“In the last couple of months, the NFL has embarked on a smear campaign highlighted by sensationalistic headlines and unsubstantiated leaks to the media,” Fujita told reporters after leaving the NFL’s offices in New York. “I have yet to see anything that implicates me in some pay-to-injure scheme, not in the last three months, not in the last three days, not today, and perhaps that’s because there’s nothing that could implicate me in some pay-to-injure scheme.”
Fujita may have not have participated in the pay-to-injure scheme while a member of the Saints. There has been little, if any evidence presented to support the accusation that he contributed money for “cart offs and knockouts” as the league alleged in it’s findings.
However, by his own admission in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King earlier this year, Fujita admitted that he did pay teammates bonuses for making big defensive plays.
“Over the years I’ve paid out a lot of money for big plays like interceptions, sacks and special teams tackles inside the 20,” Fujita told King. “But I’ve never made a payment for intentionally injuring another player.”
King – citing an unnamed source – reported that Fujita contributed anywhere from $2,000-$10,000 to the pool used by Williams.
Fujita told King that he paid players directly and did not put money into a “pot.”
That in and of itself is a significant violation of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement as well as league rules.
For that, Goodell was well within his right to punish Fujita.
As a well respected member of the NFL’s executive committee, Fujita should also be held to a higher standard.
The NFL showed reporters some of its evidence against Fujita and the three other players who were suspended. Among the things the league revealed: a $35,000 prize for knocking Brett Favre out of the NFC championship game in January 2010.
The league also displayed a computer slide it obtained from the Saints, dating from before a playoff game against Seattle the following season, showing photos of three Seahawks with “Now it’s time to do our job. Collect bounty $$$!. No apologies. Let’s go hunting” printed on it.
The evidence included hand-written notes, documents from the Saints’ computer system and witness testimony.
There is also no way with any semblance of common sense that Fujita was unaware of what was going on within the Saints locker room.
Fujita is well educated, informed and well spoken making it impossible for him to play the ‘I didn’t know card’ concerning the CBA violation or even the bounty program.
“I’ve played 10 years in this league and throughout my career I’ve done nothing but conduct myself in a positive manner,” Fujita said. “And this has impacted my reputation. This has impacted my ability to provide and earn for my family now and in the future, and I have a hard time with that.
“The NFL has been careless and irresponsible, and they’ve made mistakes.”
Unfortunately for Fujita, who received the lightest penalty of those accused to have run and or participated in the program, the NFL is not run like the legal system.
There is no such thing as reasonable doubt. Like it or not Goodell is the judge, jury and executioner.
As for the court of public opinion – where there’s smoke there’s fire.
At some point Fujita needs to drop the ‘liar liar pants on fire’ defense and come clean with his version of what took place in New Orleans.
That is if he really wants to spare his reputation.
Otherwise Fujita should stop with the speeches because few are buying what he is selling, which is his complete innocence.
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