The 2012 offseason has been one of turmoil for
The third-year Cleveland Browns linebacker has been caught up in the New Orleans Saints “bounty” scandal and was suspended by the National Football League for three games for his role in the alleged pay-for-performance system. Fujita was a member of the Saints from 2006-09, where he served as a captain on a Super Bowl-winning team following the 2009 campaign.
On Monday, Special Master Stephen Burbank informed the suspended players that the discipline was to be handled by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“It’s certainly disappointing, but it’s part of the process and you’ve just got to be patient and respect that process and just keep hoping for a positive outcome,” Fujita said following the Browns’ Tuesday afternoon minicamp practice. “The process is ongoing, absolutely.”
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was alleged to have founded and run the “bounty” system with help from the players. During a fiery pregame speech made before the Saints’ playoff game at San Francisco in January, Williams was filmed telling his players to target specific injured areas on 49er players.
While Fujita acknowledged that pregame speeches can get out of hand with their content, he retains a clear conscience when it comes to everything he has done in his NFL career.
“I don’t have any regrets for anything I’ve ever done,” Fujita said. “I think you look back and say things in meetings occasionally and the pregame hype speech and bravado, it’s all kind of funny the next day and you laugh about it, but I don’t regret anything. It’s a part of the growth as a man and a football player. I’d like to keep this about football and eliminate those distractions because if you let all that come in and take away from your focus, then you lose perspective. For me, it’s all about now, this moment and this season. I’ve got to focus.”
One thing that will not be a problem for Fujita is finding support in the Browns’ locker room. Since he first addressed the media about the “bounty” system, Fujita has said the Browns have been nothing but supportive of him.
“We as people all have things happen in the background to our jobs,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “As professionals, we learn how to deal with that so it doesn’t affect what we do. Scott’s a veteran player on our team. He’s an outstanding player in this league. He’s dealing with what he’s dealing with and it’s a league issue and we support the league and what it does and when Scott’s back, he’ll play.”
“There’s not many teammates that I’ve had over the years that I hold in higher regard than Scott Fujita,” Dawson said. “I haven’t been here, so I haven’t had the luxury to hang out with him and talk to him about everything, but he has my full support. I hope this mess gets over soon. He deserves that and we definitely want him out here with us.”
Fujita has participated in the Browns’ organized team activities throughout the offseason and assured the media that he’s “here” and “focused on the here-and-now.”
“There’s a lot that I’ve seen on this journey,” Fujita said. “There’s a lot I’ve been involved in, a lot of conversations and negotiations and I now have a friend who’s faced with what many people call a terminal diagnosis. I have a lot of friends who I’ve lost this year, so there are a lot of challenges and conflicts, but I still love the game. I love my teammates, I love playing on Sundays and that’s what keeps me coming back, keeps me preparing.”