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 and questioned his record on player safety. 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 Fujita’s three-game suspension to one for alleged involvement in the Saints’ pay-for-hits program and upheld the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma (entire season) and Will Smith (four games) and reduced the penalty for former Seahawk Anthony Hargrove (two), 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.
Goodell wrote to Fujita 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.”
Fujita was angered by the “condescending tone” in Goodell’s letter – and most of its content. He 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.
“I thought it was uncalled for and inappropriate,” Fujita said. “For him to speak to me as if I’m cavalier about player health and safety, that’s when I said enough is enough.”
The way Fujita sees it, Goodell overstepped his boundaries.
“It’s just a power-run-amok situation,” he said. “… There has been clear abuse of power that has been afforded to him.”
Fujita will appeal his suspension and intends to play Sunday against Cincinnati.
Panthers Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his left foot during the first half against Seattle. He will have season-ending surgery on Monday and be placed on injured reserve. … Packers running back Cedric Benson (sprained foot) was placed on injured reserve but designated to return after six weeks. … Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard will make his first NFL start Sunday against the Jets after Donald Brown had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee. … Bills defensive end Mark Anderson, a key offseason acquisition, will have surgery on his left knee and be out indefinitely. … The Jets put backup linebacker and key special-teams player Josh Mauga on season-ending injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle.