Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita had his suspension for his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program reduced to one game on Tuesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell reaffirmed the suspensions for the four players originally linked to the bounty program, but altered the condition of the punishment for each player.
Fujita has 72 hours to decide if he will accept the reduced punishment or if he will continue to appeal; he has maintained his innocence from the start. He will reportedly be allowed to practice with the team this week as they prepare for Sunday’s game with Cincinnati.
While Goodell cut back Fujita’s suspension from three games to one, he still played the disappointment card in a statement released by the NFL.
“While I have not found that you directly contributed to the bounty pool, there is no serious question that you were aware of the pool and its elements, including that it provided rewards for cart-offs,” Goodell wrote in a letter to . “Indeed, Mr. Vilma testified that Coach (Gregg) Williams brought the program to the team’s defensive leaders before the 2009 season and that you supported and endorsed it. Your own comments confirm that players were encouraged to ‘crank up the John Deere tractor and cart those guys off’ the playing field.
“I am 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. You made clear to me that participation in the program was voluntary and that other players could have refused to participate, as you claim to have done. 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.”
The NFL Players Association is considering its options.
“For more than six months, the NFL has ignored the facts, abused the process outlined in our collective bargaining agreement and failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever,” the NFLPA wrote in a release. “The only evidence that exists is the League's gross violation of fair due process, transparency and impartiality during this process. Truth and fairness have been the casualties of the league's refusal to admit that it might have made a mistake.
“We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players' rights with vigilance.”
Fujita has played in four games this season, totaling 14 tackles and one sack.
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