Sportress of Blogitude

Scott Fujita tears Goodell a new one, writes Commish’s conduct is ‘detrimental’

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell may have reduced Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita’s suspension from three games to only one for Fujita’s alleged role in the Bountygate scandal during the linebacker’s tenure with the New Orleans Saints, but that does not mean that Fujita has forgiven Goodell nor forgotten the manner in which he believes the commissioner besmirched his name.

On Tuesday, Goodell and the NFL issued a statement and individual letters to the involved parties that reaffirmed the punishments originally handed down to Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith but reduced the number of games the original punishments handed down to Fujita and Anthony Hargrove.

But what disturbed Fujita more than anything was a letter he received from Goodell related to the reduction in punishment. While Fujita appreciated that Goodell acquiesced and conceded that Fujita did not take part in the bounty program purportedly conducted by some members of the Saints coaching staff and players, Fujita nevertheless fired back at Goodell.

Goodell wrote to Fujita in part that he was “surprised and disappointed by the fact that you, a former defensive captain and a passionate advocate for player safety, ignored such a program and permitted it to continue. … . If you had spoken up, perhaps other players would have refused to participate and the consequences with which we are now dealing could have been avoided.” And to that, Fujita had the following fiery response via an issued statement:

“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. 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.

For me, the issue of player health & safety is personal. For the league and the Commissioner, it’s about perception & liability. 

The Commissioner says he is disappointed in me. 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”.

My track record on the issue of player health & safety speaks for itself. And clearly, as I just listed, the Commissioner’s does too.”

Right back at ya, Commish. Yikes.

Whether you agree or disagree with the content and allegations set forth by Fujita in his statement, one thing is for certain: In light of this statement, along with the many provocative and full-frontal attacks directed at Roger Goodell by Vilma throughout the entire Bountygate scandal, it is clear that players, or at the very least, these individuals, are not intimidated whatsoever by Roger Goodell, nor are they afraid to challenge the power he so diligently wields.

[Pro Football Talk]