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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has appointed his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue to hear the player appeals involved with the Saints bounty scandal that resulted in suspension for four players, including Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, Goodell announced Friday.
Tagliabue was appointed after the four suspended players and the players' union requested that he recuse himself as he could not fairly rule. Taglibue was appointed as the NFL Commissioner in 1989 and retired just prior to the beginning of the 2006 season.
Fujita was originally suspended for three games, but that suspension was reduced to just one game. He was a member of the Saints for four seasons before joining the Browns for the 2010 season. He has 598 career tackles and 23.5 career sacks. He was suspended for his involvement in a Saints bounty scandal that featured players allegedly being paid monetary incentives to cause injuries to opponents.
Taglibue is scheduled to hear the appeals on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
A potentially significant neck injury has the Cleveland Browns worried that veteran linebacker Scott Fujita's career is over.
Annoyed by the tone of his personal suspension letter from Roger Goodell, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita shot right back at the league commissioner on Wednesday to Tom Withers of The Associated Press.
"This is an absolute abuse of the power that's been afforded to the Commissioner," Fujita said. '"This seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me. I am now purportedly being suspended for failing to confront my former defensive coordinator for his inappropriate use of language."
The veteran linebacker was not found by Goodell to have actively taken part in the New Orleans Saints bounty program during his 2009 season with the team, but was still levied a one-game suspension after Goodell's final review of the situation.
Due to both the tone of the letter and the way he has been treated by Goodell throughout this entire situation, Fujita fully plans to appeal his new suspension and will remain on the field for the time being with the Browns.
Even though it's hard to imagine a quick solution in this case, Fujita readily admits that if things were handled differently on the league's end he would probably not even think twice about appealing.
After pleading his innocence in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita had his three-game suspension reduced to one game on Tuesday, according to Jeff Schudel of The News-Herald.
Fujita was not found to have contributed to the bounty program in New Orleans while he was a part of the roster in 2009, but was still forced to accept blame for not actively trying to stop things as far as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is concerned.
Goodell, who ultimately deemed a lesser suspension was necessary in this case, was still largely critical of Fujita's actions in a letter informing the linebacker of his final ruling:
"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 cartoffs.
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."
Fujita will have 72 hours to appeal his new suspension, but clearly has to be somewhat encouraged by Goodell's perceived leniency here. Even though the NFLPA will continue to fight every punishment handed down related to the scandal, only losing Fujita for one game should be viewed as a success for the Browns at this point.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and the NFL have apparently been playing phone tag. The two sides were supposed to meet via video conference last week, but the league canceled as they wanted to have the meeting in person. According to Ohio.com, Fujita will "probably" meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday.
The two sides have yet to meet since a panel lifted the suspensions on Fujita and three other players. All three of the others have already met with Goodell, but Fujita has been elusive. According to Fujita, the two sides will work something out "as quickly as possible." It's not often a player and the commissioner can't meet up, and one has to wonder if Fujita is stalling on the off-chance his suspension is re-applied.
Fujita appeared in his second consecutive game with the Browns on Sunday. He didn't get much playing time. The defensive scheme wasn't calling for him and he's been nursing an injury. Officially, he isn't being held back due to injuries at all. Still, the Browns are much better when he's out there and the meeting could lead to Fujita (and the rest of the players) being suspended again.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita likely won't meet with NFL officials concerning his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal until after the Browns' next two games. Fujita had planned to have a video conference with the NFL on Tuesday, but the league told him on Monday that they'd rather have a face-to-face meeting. With the Browns traveling to Baltimore for a Thursday game with the Ravens next week it is likely that the meeting will take place sometime after that game.
Fujita was initially suspended three games for his role in the bounty program, but an appeals panel recently overturned the suspensions given to the four players in the matter. Commissioner Roger Goodell plans to meet with each of the four players.
Fujita made his season debut in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals and practiced on Wednesday for the first time this season since injuring his knee in a preseason game.
We'll be uncertain of Scott Fujita's future for a little bit longer, as Jason La Canfora reports via Twitter that the meeting with NFL officials on Tuesday has been canceled. Fujita was never headed to New York, but the two sides have been video conferencing and had one scheduled for Tuesday to discuss pending appeals.
According to La Canfora's follow-up Tweet, the NFL canceled the meeting for one reason or another. There's no reasoning known for certain, but given that it was canceled a full hour prior to the scheduled time of the meeting (1 p.m. ET according to Albert Breer), technical difficulties were likely not an issue.
Fujita is currently rehabbing a knee injury in Cleveland, and played against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, making two tackles. He was eligible to play in Week 1 with the suspension over the Saints' bounty situation temporarily lifted, but he hadn't had any time in practice since injuring that knee in the preseason.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita was not named in a signed affidavit former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams provided the NFL on the ongoing bounty scandal, according to a report at CBSsports.com.
According to Jason La Canfora's report at CBSsports.com, many topics were discussed in the lengthy report, and many players' names were stated explicitly throughout the document.
But Fujita, who was initially suspended three games to begin the season, was never mentioned.
Also according to the report, Fujita and other former Saints whose bounty-related suspensions were recently "vacated" are scheduled to meet with league officials Tuesday.
Fujita started Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals and made two tackles. His suspension, along with those of the other implicated players, were lifted for Week 1. But Fujita sat out the Browns' 17-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles while he recovered from a leg injury.
The Browns kick off against the Buffalo Bills at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on CBS.
Injured Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita is ready to return to the field for the Cleveland Browns. Scott Petrak of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reports that Fujita will start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals:
Fujita was originally suspended for the first four games of the season due to his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, but he successfully appealed the suspension in court. He was injured and missed most of training camp and the preseason and just started practicing earlier this week. Browns coach Pat Shurmur said earlier this week that Fujita would play Sunday, but didn't specify how much or in what role.
For more on the Browns, be sure to visit Dawgs By Nature. Additional coverage on theBengals can be found at Cincy Jungle, while SB Nation's NFL hub is the place to go for all of your pro football needs.
The Browns received a roster exemption from the league Friday after Fujita's three-game suspension for his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal was overturned by a three-member appeals panel. Fujita, though, did not play Sunday and remained on the exempt list until today.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Fujita, who's coming back from an injured left knee, will practice this week.
Fujita slipped right into the 53-man roster after cornerback Joe Haden was suspended on Monday for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances and removed from the active roster. The Browns are back in action on Sunday when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals.
Also, like I said earlier, Fujita a likely healthy scratch, tho roster issues elsewhere could force Browns to dress him. Leg not an issue.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 9, 2012
Fujita was originally suspended for the first three games for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, but he was one of four players to successfully appeal and have his suspension lifted. Fujita injured his ankle early in the preseason and has missed significant practice time.
Dawgs By Nature has you covered for all the latest on the Browns, while Bleeding Green Nation has all the latest news and analysis on the Eagles. Check out SB Nation's NFL hub for coverage around the league.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita's three-game suspension stemming from the New Orleans Saints' alleged bounty program was wiped away on Friday, but it's still unlikely that he'll play in Cleveland's opening-week game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
Scott Fujita missed 3 preseason games w/injury and all practices/ meetings this week due to suspension; unlikely he plays Sun source said— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 8, 2012
Fujita missed most of camp thanks to a left knee injury that he suffered in the team's first preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions. In two years with Cleveland, Fujita has only appeared in 19 out of a possible 36 games.
Despite Fujita's uncertain availability for Week 1, even getting him back for two "extra" games will be a boost to a Browns team that needs all the help it can get.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita was among four players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal to win their appeal and have their suspensions lifted. The decision was handed down by an internal appeals panel, part of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and players' union, on Friday.
We're still waiting on a decision but I'm optimistic and preparing as if I'll be playing in the first game.
Albert Breer, a reporter with the NFL Network, noted that if commissioner Roger Goodell wants to continue with suspending the four players in this case, he must do so strictly on the grounds of injuring other players for pay. For now, Fujita and the others can take the field.
The NFL Players Association has filed a motion in U.S. District Court seeking a temporary restraining order against the suspensions levied to three players suspended by the NFL for the New Orleans Saints bounty-related scandal, including former Saints and current Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita. Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune has more:
Fujita is slated to miss the first three games on this season for the Cleveland Browns. (Anthony) Hargrove is a free agent after being released by Green Bay in the preseason.
(Will) Smith and Fujita argued in the latest filing that each are starters and that the suspension could cost them their jobs, "or even worse," their places on their teams' rosters.
Both players added that with Fujita's contract expiring after this season and Smith's contract expiring in 2014, the suspension this season would prevent them from early negotiations because certain benchmarks may not be reached, hampering their stats.
The NFLPA keeps fighting to try and keep the former Saints players who were a part of the Saints bounty scandal from getting suspended, but they were dealt yet another blow to that end on Tuesday. Roger Goodell and the NFL upheld the suspensions once again after
Both sides of the debate have released statements since the upheld sentencing, and both have accusations for the other side to chew on. Goodell claims that there was never any evidence given to him to change his mind on the suspensions:
"Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions. Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process..."
While the NFLPA accuses him of an unjust trial:
The players are disappointed with the League's conduct during this process. We reiterate our concerns about the lack of fair due process, lack of integrity of the investigation and lack of the jurisdictional authority to impose discipline under the collective bargaining agreement. Moreover, the Commissioner took actions during this process that rendered it impossible for him to be an impartial arbitrator.
The NFLPA has never and will never condone dangerous or reckless conduct in football and to date, nothing the League has provided proves these players were participants in a pay-to-injure program. We will continue to pursue all options.
It looks very likely that Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita is going to be suspended the three games that the NFL sentenced him to before the appeals process.
For his part, he hopes that the process continues to work, hopefully eventually in his favor so that he can play every game this year for the Browns.
The NFL Players Association was dealt a blow in its hopes to get the effects nullified in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal on Monday. University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Burbank, acting as an arbitrator, determined that Commissioner Roger Goodell did indeed have the power to hand out punishments to players, which the NFLPA had disputed originally under the new CBA.
Nothing is set in stone for how the suspensions will eventually turn out, but this is a bad sign for the players. As it stands right now, Jonathan Vilma (full season), Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Cleveland's Scott Fujita (three games) will all serve their respective suspensions, though all three players are still appealing them. According to the Associated Press, the NFLPA is also planning on appealing the decision made by Burbank as well by using a different arbitrator:
The union filed another grievance with a different arbitrator, Shyam Das, claiming the new CBA prohibits Goodell from punishing players for any conduct before the CBA was signed. The league's investigation showed the bounty program ran from 2009-11.
Das has yet to rule on that grievance, which also seeks to have player appeals heard by Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who are jointly appointed by the league and union to review discipline handed out for on-field conduct.
Following the media availability session after the Cleveland Browns first organized team activities on Tuesday, suspended linebacker Scott Fujita expressed that he feels optimistic that he will be available to play in the first game of the regular season. Fujita is appealing the three-game suspension he is facing for his alledged involvement in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
#browns lb Scott Fujita said "I'm very optimistic" about being on field on opening day. Is appealing three-game bounty suspension.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) May 22, 2012
Fujita has denied any involvement in the bounty scandal, suggesting that he hasn't even seen any evidence from the league in a released statement, and has officially appealed. He and other players will have an arbitration hearing on May 30 to argue the suspensions.
He stated that being put on trial in public has been difficult to deal with and said that he looks forward to sharing his side of the story at a later date.
#browns lb Scott Fujita said he'll be able to share more about his lack of a role in the bounty situation when it's appropriate.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) May 22, 2012
Scott Fujita is currently in limbo in regards to the first three games of the 2012 season. He's suspended as part of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, and that unquestionably hurts the Cleveland Browns, a team that boasted an above-average defense in 2011. They'll need that defense up to snuff again in 2012 with so many new moving parts on offense.
Fujita has denied any involvement in the bounty scandal, suggesting that he hasn't even seen any evidence from the league in a released statement, and has officially appealed. Rather, Fujita has filed a reservation of rights, meaning that he's keeping the ability to appeal at a later date while the NFL and the NFL Players' Union battle out the issue of whether or not the suspensions are even allowed.
In other words, the union is suggesting that the commissioner Roger Goodell and the league don't have the ability to punish players for things that happened before the newest collective bargaining agreement was signed in August. It's going to arbitration, and according to the Associated Press, the date for said Arbitration is set for May 30.
Stephen Burbank of the University of Pennsylvania has been asked to rule on if the players should be able to be punished for something that happened before the aforementioned agreement was signed. They're asking that Burbank officially review their appeals as opposed to Goodell, and all of that apparently hinges on a separate hearing that's being held Wednesday before arbitrator Shyam Das, to visit the talk about the CBA and the dates involved.
It sounds like Burbank could only be the arbitrator in regards to the filed appeals by Fujita, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Jonathan Vilma, but that will hinge on how the other arbitration plays out.
Scott Fujita officially appealed his three-game suspension handed down by the NFL for his alleged involvement in the bounty controversy surrounding the New Orleans Saints on Monday. Fujita, along with Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith, filed a letter on Monday reserving his right to appeal his suspension at a later date.
The reason they've done this is because the NFL Player's Association has filed a grievance against the NFL and an appeal might not be needed. The NFL likely requires them to file an appeal by a certain date following a suspension, so this is to protect that right.
On top of that Fujita released a statement to the Plain Dealer, here's a quote from what he had to say:
"I've yet to hear the specifics of any allegation against me, nor have I seen any evidence that supports what the NFL alleges in its press release. I look forward to the opportunity to confront what evidence they claim to have in the appropriate forum. Until then, I stand by my previous comments. I have never contributed money to any so-called "bounty" pool, and any statements to the contrary are false. To say I'm disappointed with the League would be a huge understatement.''
Fujita would be losing around $644,000 if he were to serve his three-game suspension. His punishment is noticeably less than former-teammate Jonathan Vilma, who is suspended for an entire season and has also appealed his suspension.
The Cleveland Browns may not be without linebacker Scott Fujita for as long as they might have thought. Fujita was suspended for three games in the New Orleans Saints bounty schedule, a stark contrast to Jonathan Vilma, who got hit with a full season ban. As such, all players involved - which also includes Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove - are appealing.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports on Twitter that Fujita has officially filed his appeal:
Appeals for the other three suspended players -- Will Smith, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove -- are officially filed to Roger Goodell.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 7, 2012
Apparently, that's not entirely accurate. Fujita, Smith and Hargrove has filed a "reservation of rights" to commissioner Roger Goodell, as opposed to an actual appeal. The differences between the two are somewhat unclear, but Andrew Brandt does follow-up with a little bit of knowledge on the matter:
Smith/Fujita/Hargrove reserve their rights to appeal but don't recognize Goodell's authority to discipline; thus no appeal hearing.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) May 7, 2012
It will certainly be interesting to see how this differs from a normal appeal process. It looks as though the players are attempting to go around Goodell, but will reserve the right to appeal to Goodell if they're unable to do so. It's very convoluted, but this whole situation has been from the very beginning either way.
The NFLPA made it very clear that they were not going to lie down and take it if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell brought the hammer down upon the players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, but bring the hammer down he did. As expected, the players association is making a move as well.
Andrew Brandt from the National Football Post reported on twitter that the NFLPA has filed a grievance against the NFL questioning Goodell's ability to make such a suspension. The suspensions included a three game hit on Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita.
As further tweets by Brandt lay out, the NFLPA says that since the actions were all taken prior to the new CBA, they should not be subject to discipline and that even if they were, they should be handled by the CBA 'System Arbitrator', not Goodell himself.
NFLPA grievance appears to take 3 tacts: (1) conduct prior to new CBA - August 4, 2011 - not subject to discipline by NFL.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) May 4, 2012
(2) That only the CBA "System Arbitrator", not the Commissioner, should be able to punish the players for these actions.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) May 4, 2012
(3) That even if the first two are somehow not controlling, the appeals should be handled by Art Shell/Ted Cottrell, not Goodell.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) May 4, 2012
More on this is sure to come out as time goes along.
The NFLPA promptly responded to Wednesday's suspension of four players for their roles in the Saints bounty scandal. Scott Fujita was one of the four players suspended, as the league announced the Browns outside linebacker will sit out three games for his role in contributing to the pool. Adam Schefter reported that all four players, however, would appeal their suspensions and the union was ready to vigorously defend their members, with legal action certainly on the table. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has now released a statement in response to the suspensions, and he echoes and confirms Schefter's initial report. Via NFLPA:
"After seeing the NFL's decision letters, the NFLPA has still not received any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players' involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program. We have made it clear that punishment without evidence is not fair. We have spoken with our players and their representatives and we will vigorously protect and pursue all options on their behalf."
It sounds like this is far from over.
All 4 player suspensions will be appealed, per source who said, "Get ready for a massive multiple legal battle over this on several fronts."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 2, 2012
The NFL's release stated that Fujita contribute a significant amount of money to the bounty pool, particularly during the 2009 Playoffs.
The Browns' linebacker is a leader in the NFLPA, which, according to Schefter, is prepared to fight the suspensions in a legal forum. Fujita will be permitted to practice with the Browns and partake in training camp and the preseason before his suspension kicks in, while Jonathan Vilma may not have contact with the team during his full season suspension.
The NFL has suspended Browns' linebacker Scott Fujita for three games for his role in the Saints bounty program. Fujita insisted that he pledged money only to a pool for key defensive plays, and not a bounty pool for injuring opposing players. He's been an outspoken critic of the league's player safety measures, and he and his wife have both been huge advocates for increased head safety in the league. According to the league's report, however, Fujita did contribute cash to program which rewarded injuring players, specifically in the 2009 Playoffs. Via:
Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) is suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2012 regular season. The record established that Fujita, a linebacker, pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 NFL Playoffs when he played for the Saints. The pool to which he pledged paid large cash rewards for "cart-offs" and "knockouts," plays during which an opposing player was injured.
The Cleveland Browns expected they may be without linebacker and defensive leader Scott Fujita for a portion of the 2012 season. Fujita was a key player whose name continually surfaced during the Saints bounty scandal which exploded this offseason. Fujita maintained to Sports Illustrated's Peter King that he contributed money to a pool which rewarded key defensive plays, such as interceptions, but never paid money into a bounty pool for injuring opposing players.
With Sean Payton already out for the season, it was only a matter of time before a full review of the players participation in the scandal was completed and Roger Goodell handed out suspensions to those involved. Those penalties were announced on Wednesday, and Fujita will miss the first three games of the season, because of a "leadership role" in the program. Via NFLcommunications.com:
Four players - Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Jonathan Vilma - were notified today that they have been suspended without pay for conduct detrimental to the NFL as a result of their leadership roles in the New Orleans Saints' pay-for-performance/bounty program that endangered player safety over three seasons from 2009-2011.
Jonathan Vilma, who was reported as a ringleader in the bounty program, was suspended for the entire season. Anthony Hargrove is out for eight games, and former OSU defensive end Will Smith was suspended for four games. Andrew Brandt reports that Fujita will be able to go through training camp and preseason activities with the club, via @ADBrandt:
Vilma's suspension to start immediately; Smith, Fujita and Hargrove can go through offseason and preseason w/teams.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) May 2, 2012
This bounty probe story has legs, appearing to have run to Cleveland and found Browns linebacker Scott Fujita
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