Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, one of four players facing suspensions for their alleged roles in the alleged Saints bounty system, addressed the media after Tuesday’s OTA practice in Cleveland.
And Fujita left no doubt regarding his position on the situation.
“That is not true,” Fujita said of the league’s contention that he helped fund a pool of money that went to players who knocked opponents out of games, via Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram.
Still, Fujita is not yet ready to delve into details.
“Unfortunately for a lot of us, we’re on public trial,” Fujita said. “But I’m just going to stick with my previous statements and, listen, there will come a time when I’ll be ready to share everything, but now is not the time.”
His concern is more than the money he’ll lose during a three-game suspension. “Listen, my reputation is a lot more valuable to me than three game checks, and my track record speaks for itself,” Fujita said. “It’s our word against theirs and that’s frustrating, but the reality is that I know what actually happened and that’s why I can stand by those statements.”
Given the public nature of the accusations, with the NFL releasing only summaries of information and snippets of raw evidence in support of serious allegations against Fujita and the other three players, it would be nice if the NFL would be more specific about the things the league believes happened.
It also would be nice if one or more of the players would tell their side or the story, sooner rather than later.
We understand that, for strategic reasons, the players need to keep their cards close to the vest, in order to enhance their chances to win the appeal, wherever and whenever it may occur. But if Fujita truly doesn’t care about the three game checks, he should just spill his guts now and tell his story.
After giving the league the benefit of the doubt when the story first emerged on March 2, since it was clearly against the league’s obvious interests to peel back the curtain and admit that one of the NFL’s flagship franchises was cheating, we’ve become far more skeptical about the league’s claims. The persistent refusal of the league to produce evidence coupled with troubling inconsistencies between the league’s description of the two items that have become available (the Anthony Hargrove declaration and the Mike Ornstein email) have given rise to a legitimate concern that the league has clear evidence of a pay-for-performance system, clear evidence of cartoonish locker room talk regarding bounties, but zero evidence that anyone ever acted upon the urgings to try to inflict injury — or that anyone ever actually received a dime for doing so.
At this point, we’ll take whatever evidence we can get. And if the league won’t tell the story in chapter-and-verse detail, here’s hoping Scott Fujita or Anthony Hargrove or Will Smith or Jonathan Vilma or Sean Payton of Gregg Williams or Joe Vitt or Mickey Loomis will.