June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Browns LB Scott Fujita declares innocence, optimistic suspension will be overturned

BEREA – Browns linebacker Scott Fujita feels wronged by the NFL, will continue to fight his three-game suspension and is optimistic it will be overturned.

Fujita addressed the media this afternoon after the first of the full-squad organized team activities. He had not spoken to reporters since the NFL handed out punishments for the Saints’ bounty scandal.

Fujita, who played with the Saints from 2006-09, again denied any role in a pay-for-injury system and referred to a statement released earlier this month.

“Unfortunately for a lot of us, we’re on public trial,” he 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.”

The league’s announcement of the suspensions said: “Fujita pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 playoffs. The pool to which he pledged paid large cash rewards for ‘cart-offs’ and ‘knockouts,’ plays during which an opposing player was injured.”

“That is not true,” Fujita said.

Fujita expressed his disappointment in how the league has handled the investigation and punishment. He was in the hospital after the birth of his third daughter when the league released its findings and he was implicated.

“I had to hear some thing through a backchannel media person about some investigation that’s been going on for a couple years and I was never even alerted about it,” Fujita said. “I had a problem with that. That was at a time when I was supposed to be with my family, spending time with my newborn daughter, so I was disappointed in that.”

He also fears for his reputation. He said he’s spent his career trying to do the right thing and help the community, but now he could be known for this.

“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.”

Fujita was one of four players suspended. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a lawsuit against commissioner Roger Goodell for defamation, but Fujita didn’t answer when asked if he’d sue.

Fujita said the league hasn’t given him any evidence it says it has against him, and he doesn’t understand why.

The union filed a pair of grievances, questioning Goodell’s jurisdiction in the case. Fujita said the next hearing is May 30. Depending on the result of the grievances, Fujita maintains the right to appeal the suspension.

He was asked if he feels like he’ll be on the field for the opener Sept. 9 vs. Philadelphia.

“We’ll see. I’m very optimistic. I’m always a hopeful guy,” he said. “But I can only control what I can control right now. That’s getting myself ready to play.”