A collective bargaining agreement appeals panel overturned the NFL’s suspension of four players – including Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita – for their involvement in the New Orleans’ Saints bounty program, according to NFL.com.
That means Fujita could be on the field for the Browns when they open the season on Sunday against Philadelphia.
While the ruling lifted the suspensions, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell still has the power to suspend the players at a future date if he can prove there was an intent on their part to injure.
This is good news for the Browns, who are painfully thin at linebacker due to injuries to Chris Gocong and James –Michael Johnson.
The team can activate Fujita without cutting a player to create a roster spot, according to Jason La Canfora, but can still only dress the NFL maximum number of players.
Fujita received a three-game suspension for his allegedly contributing money to a pool that paid Saints players for intentionally injuring opponents.
“I’m overwhelmed with all the support,” Fujita Tweeted after the announcement. “Thank you so much everyone. Can’t tell you how much it means to me.”
Middle linebacker and defensive team captain D’Qwell Jackson welcomed the news.
“It’s a guy that we all well respect in the locker room,” Jackson told The Beacon Journal. “We hate to see him go through this ordeal. He just had a new baby in the family, and he’s gotta deal with this cloud that’s over his name right now. If you know Scott, you Scott’s a great guy and you hate for any guy to go through what he’s going through right now. To have him back and have him not deal with it at all for the short term is great for him.”
It will be interesting to see what the Browns do because, as Adam Schefter pointed out in a Tweet, coach Pat Shurmur has a rule that if a player doesn’t practice during the week, he doesn’t play on Sunday. Fujita has not been able to be with the team the past week because of the suspension.
But it sounds like Shurmur may make an exception in this case.
“We’ve got up until right before game time to put the roster together but I don’t see any reason why he can’t play,” Shurmur said in his Friday press conference.
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