A lot of people are happy with Roger Goodell's crackdown on the New Orleans Saints' so-called "Bounty" program—where defensive players were paid for big hits—but player union leader and Saints linebacker Scott Fujita isn't one of them.
I've been willing to give [the NFL] the benefit of the doubt that they may have just been working with the information they've been given, even though much of that information was inaccurate and lacked credibility.
It's their cavalier interpretation of everything that's been way off. They clearly proceeded with a public smear campaign with very little regard for the truth.
Fujita, who only played for New Orleans during one of the seasons targeted by the bounty probe, was suspended for three full games.
The report suggests that Fujita may feel that Goodell and the league is getting back at him for his tough negotiating style that was put on display during the negotiations of the new collective bargaining agreement last year.
Fujita constantly called Goodell out on the big issues and that didn't sit well with the league's head man, said Browns teammate Ben Watson:
Scott wasn't scared to ask the tough questions that some of us wouldn't or some of us didn't even know to ask. Scott wanted to make sure the commissioner owned up to all that stuff and ... you could tell that Mr. Goodell wasn't comfortable answering some of those questions.
Fujita believes he is being targeted for some of those questions because of the following:
- A public document issued by the NFL has him playing for New Orleans in 2010, which shows a lack of credibility in the investigation.
- The NFL has publicly linked him to the program, but admits in its disciplinary letter that there is no evidence that he committed money to any specific bounty on any specific player.,
- Roger Goodell called his personal phone twice, something he could not do without an NFLPA attorney on the line with him.
NFLPA attorney Heather McPhee contacted Goodell's office to say that Fujita wanted to speak with Goodell if counsel was present, but no further contact was made and the linebacker learned of his suspension just days later.
Take what you want from Fujita's statements, but it seems that the "scandal" part of BountyGate might just go both ways.