A reduction of his suspension from three games to one game has not made Browns linebacker Scott Fujita any happier with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In reducing Fujita’s suspension, Goodell reiterated that he believes Fujita committed conduct detrimental to the league by failing to do anything to stop the bounty program while playing for the Saints. But in a statement released today, Fujita said it’s Goodell who has hurt the NFL with his actions.
“The Commissioner says he is disappointed in me,” Fujita wrote in his statement. “The truth is, I’m disappointed in him. His positions on player health and safety since a 2009 congressional hearing on concussions have been inconsistent at best. He failed to acknowledge a link between concussions & post-career brain disease, pushed for an 18-game regular season, committed to a full season of Thursday night games, has continually challenged players’ rights to file workers compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, and he employed incompetent replacement officials for the start of the 2012 season. His actions or lack thereof are by the league’s own definition, ‘conduct detrimental’.”
Fujita also said he doesn’t believe Goodell cares about the players’ health as much as he cares about the NFL’s bottom line, noting, “For me, the issue of player health & safety is personal. For the league and the Commissioner, it’s about perception & liability.”
The league’s statement about the bounty case, and the reduction of Fujita’s suspension, suggests that the NFL doesn’t think it has strong evidence that Fujita was an active participant in the bounty program. But the NFL does say that Fujita went along with it — which Fujita says is a phony reason to suspend him.
“I’m pleased the Commissioner has finally acknowledged that I never participated in any so-called ‘bounty’ program, as I’ve said for the past 7 months,” Fujita said. “However, his condescending tone was neither accurate nor productive. Additionally, I am now purportedly being suspended for failing to confront my former defensive coordinator for his inappropriate use of language. This seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me. I also think it sets a bad precedent when players can be disciplined for not challenging the behavior of their superiors. This is an absolute abuse of the power that’s been afforded to the Commissioner.”
Fujita still believes he should be recognized as a leading advocate for player safety.
“My track record on the issue of player health & safety speaks for itself,” Fujita wrote. “And clearly, as I just listed, the Commissioner’s does too.”