BEREA, Ohio – With as much purpose as any tackle he’s ever made, Scott Fujita delivered a shot to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Angered by Goodell’s handling of the New Orleans Saints’ bounties scandal, Fujita accused the commissioner of misusing his power, questioned his record on player safety, and the Browns’ linebacker vowed to keep fighting to clear his name.
The commissioner says he is disappointed in me, Fujita said. The truth is, I’m disappointed in him.
One day after Goodell reduced his three-game suspension to one for alleged involvement in the Saints’ pay-for-hits program and ruled on the penalties for three other players, Fujita took on the commissioner in a strongly worded statement.
Fujita charged Goodell with abuse of power and expressed his displeasure with the way his suspension was lessened. On Tuesday, Goodell sent Fujita a letter in which he chastised the 10-year veteran and member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee for not doing more to stop his former teammates in New Orleans from taking part in the bounty program.
Fujita was angered by the condescending tone in Goodell’s letter – and most of its content.
For him to come out and say he was disappointed in me for not standing up to my coach, Fujita said after practice Wednesday. I haven’t had someone tell me they were disappointed in me since I was 12 years old, and that was my father.
Fujita was pleased Goodell all but exonerated him from any involvement in the Saints’ mess but was incensed the commissioner felt it necessary to chastise him for not stepping in and trying to stop the rogue program.
I thought it was uncalled for and inappropriate, Fujita said.
Fujita will appeal his one-game suspension and intends to play Sunday when the winless Browns (0-5) play host to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Fujita has maintained his innocence in the scandal since it first broke in March.
On Tuesday, Goodell upheld the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith and reduced penalties for Fujita and Anthony Hargrove.
Vilma will sit out the entire season and Smith’s punishment stands at four games. Hargrove, a free agent defensive lineman, will face a two-game suspension once he signs with a team. He originally was hit with eight games, but that was reduced to seven with five games already served.