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
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