When Roger Goodell announced his decisions in the Saints' bounty scandal Tuesday afternoon, now-Browns linebacker Scott Fujita saw his penalty drop from three game to just one. But the 11-year veteran wasn't the least bit pleased with the commissioner's actions.
Fujita, who spent four seasons in New Orleans, including the 2009 Super Bowl championship, wasn't as much angered by the reduced suspension as he was by the "condescending tone used in his redetermination letter," according to ESPN.
In a letter Fujita received regarding the decision Tuesday, Goodell expanded on his findings.
"I'm 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," Goodell said in the letter to Fujita. "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."
Goodell's tone, along with some of the content in the letter, enraged
Fujita, and the former Saints defensive captain fired
"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," Fujita responded. "I also think it sets a dangerous 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."
The "abusive" nature of Goodell's power has come into question several
times since Goodell took over for former commissioner Paul
Tagliabue in 2006. Goodell's position as the ultimate judge in many disciplinary cases has often been considered manipulative and unfair, and Fujita's comments only further that accusation.
And as a side note, if Fujita is being suspended for not challenging Gregg Williams' system, then why is he the only one? Why isn't the rest of the Saints' 53-man roster, or at least the defensive players, being forced to miss games? That seems like the move of an abusive leader.
Aside from the complete stranglehold of power, Fujita also attack Goodell for his "inconsistent" stance on player safety and even condemned many of Goodell's actions as commissioner.
"The commissioner says he is disappointed in me. The truth is, I'm disappointed in him," Fujita said. "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 and 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.' "
While Fujita's conduct may not seem the most wholesome given such comments, it's hard to dispute his claims. Goodell has seemed a bit wishy-washy on many issues concerning player safety even as recently as the replacement referees fiasco. But while his frustrations are understood, it's never a good idea to spit in the face of a dictator.
This bounty story is likely far from over, and Fujita's place in the middle of it all only continues to grow.