|Roger Goodell reissued Saints bounty scandal sanctions on Tuesday. A day later, Scott Fujita responded. (US Presswire)|
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reissued punishments Tuesday for the four players involved in the Saints bounty scandal. Suspensions were unchanged for linebacker Jonathan Vilma (the entire season) and defensive end Will Smith (four games), while linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Browns, had his suspension reduced from three games to one, and free agent Anthony Hargrove's suspension was reduced by one game to seven.
In the hours that followed, the NFLPA and some of the aggrieved players issued statements on Goodell's ruling. Fujita weighed in on Wednesday, calling the tenor of Goodell's letter "condescending" and adding that he's "disappointed" in the commissioner for what he sees as his inconsistencies in player health and safety.
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"I'm pleased the commissioner has finally acknowledged that I never participated in any so-called 'bounty' program, as I've said for the past seven months," Fujita said in a statement. "However, his condescending tone was neither accurate nor productive. Additionally, I am now purportedly being suspended for failing to confront my former defensive coordinator for his inappropriate use of language. This seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me. 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.
"For me, the issue of player health and safety is personal. For the league and the commissioner, it's about perception and liability.
"The commissioner says he is disappointed in me," Fujita continued. "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 and 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 and safety speaks for itself. And clearly, as I just listed, the commissioner's does, too."
The bounty scandal has been a contentious issue since the NFL first released findings from its investigation in March. It's not surprising the players don't share Goodell's view, and it's less surprising that all four suspended players plan to appeal to the commissioner, league sources tell CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora.
Additionally, the players are seeking options in regards to the CBA appeals panel (the group that temporarily overturned Goodell's decision in September) and are considering how to advance the case they have in a Louisiana federal court, where they have asked a judge for an injunction on the suspensions.
The NFL would almost certainly appeal any injunction that might be granted. That means, as La Canfora has reported for weeks, it could be well into 2013 before we get anything close to a final result on this case.
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