BEREA – Browns linebacker Scott Fujita fired back at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after Goodell reduced his suspension from three games to one Tuesday.
Goodell admitted he didn’t have evidence of Fujita contributing to a pay-for-injury program in 2009 with the New Orleans Saints – as Fujita steadfastly maintained throughout the seven-month ordeal. But Goodell decided he could punish him for not discouraging his teammates’ participation in the alleged bounty system, and for paying teammates for big plays in wins, such as sacks and forced fumbles.
“This seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me,” Fujita wrote in a statement released today. “I also think it sets a bad precedent when players can be disciplined for not challenging the behavior of their superiors. This is an absolute abuse of the power that’s been afforded to the Commissioner.”
Goodell referenced Fujita’s commitment to player safety in a letter Tuesday in stating he should’ve done more to stop the bounty program.
“For me, the issue of player health & safety is personal,” Fujita wrote. “For the league and the Commissioner, it’s about perception & liability.
“The Commissioner says he is disappointed in me. The truth is, I’m disappointed in him. His positions on player health and safety since a 2009 congressional hearing on concussions have been inconsistent at best. He failed to acknowledge a link between concussions & post-career brain disease, pushed for an 18-game regular season, committed to a full season of Thursday night games, has continually challenged players’ rights to file workers compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, and he employed incompetent replacement officials for the start of the 2012 season. His actions or lack thereof are by the league’s own definition, ‘conduct detrimental.’
“My track record on the issue of player health & safety speaks for itself. And clearly, as I just listed, the Commissioner’s does too.”
Fujita said after practice he will appeal and play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. He said he wouldn’t have accepted a suspension, regardless of Goodell’s tone.
“No, no. Because I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said.
The Browns were missing seven players from practice and had only three healthy receivers.
Receivers Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), Travis Benjamin (hamstring) and Jordan Norwood (foot) sat out, leaving Greg Little, rookie Josh Gordon and Joshua Cribbs available. Josh Cooper and Rod Windsor are on the practice squad and could be promoted.
** Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (concussion), defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (leg), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle) and safety Tashaun Gipson (knee) didn’t practice.
Coach Pat Shurmur said Jackson attended meetings in the morning. He must be medically cleared to return to practice after leaving the game Sunday in the second quarter.
** Tight end Alex Smith (concussion) returned to practice. He hadn’t been on the field since leaving the Bengals game Sept. 16.
FOLLOW SCOTT PETRAK ON TWITTER.