April 19, 2014

Scott Fujita: I feel bad for Browns fans (Video)

In a recent appearance on FOX Sports 1′s “FOX Football Daily,” former Cleveland Browns linebacker discussed the state of Berea and the fans who are impacted by each decision made within it’s confines. In the wake of the open letter penned by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and the firing of head coach Rob Chudzinski, Fujita says, “I hear you.” Fujita references players like Joe Thomas and D’Qwell Jackson who have been a part of this team for entirely too many losing seasons.

Fujita stated that he was shocked to hear Rob Chudzinski was going to be fired—he had assumed there had to have been some sort of workplace scandal prior to hearing that the decision was simply made on performance. The former linebacker did say that he feels the Browns roster offers a lot of talent to a head coach, but understands why the volatile position isn’t among the most desirable.

Fujita: Richardson seemed to be disengaged, high-maintenance

It seems strange to say a fresh start is needed for someone who’s beginning his career, but that might be the case here. Guys get drafted all the time to places they just don’t want to be. I can’t speculate about what’s in any one person’s head, but when a player enters the league wearing headphones incessantly, shows up late for treatments, and makes little effort to engage with his teammates, he can quickly develop a reputation for being insular and high-maintenance.

It can be perceived that he isn’t happy and that he’s not making an effort to buy in. I’ve seen this happen countless times, especially in today’s head down, keep-things-to-yourself culture. Generally, you hope the player grows out of that coming into his second season, especially when there’s been a complete regime change and everyone is expected to prove themselves all over again. Some players buy in, and some don’t. Buy-in, even if it’s just perceived, goes a long way. You have to be willing to show you want to be part of the team.

— Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, via FOX Sports, on former Browns running back Trent Richardson. Fujita spent last season with the Browns during Richardson’s rookie year. Fujita adds that while the trade may benefit the Browns on a going-forward basis, that a “message” was sent:  No one is guaranteed a spot on this team. No one is bigger than the team. If you don’t buy in, you don’t belong on this team. He also added that fans should “wait ’til next year,” so there’s that.

[Related: Rooting interests versus tanking interests: Keepin’ it Real]

Former Cleveland Brown Scott Fujita to join new FOX Sports 1 network

Former Browns and Saints linebacker Scott Fujita announced via twitter Monday that he would be joining the new FOX Sports 1 channel.

According to another tweet, Fujita will be appearing on the FOX Football Daily program, along with former NFL players Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and Ronde Barber.

FOX Sports 1 is a new national 24-hour multi-sport cable channel being launched by FOX on August 17, 2013. According to the network, FOX Sports 1 will cover seven “pillar” sports: college basketball and football, MLB (in 2014), NASCAR, NFL (ancillary programs), soccer and UFC.

The network will use FOX Sports Live as it’s 24 hour sports news program. Think of it as FOX Sports’ version of ESPN’s Sports Center.

[Related: Bernie Kosar, Peter King and our broken culture]

 

D’Qwell Jackson, Chris Gocong and Eric Barton join Athlete Ally

Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and former teammates Chris Gocong and Eric Barton have become ambassadors for Athlete Ally, an organization dedicated to ending homophobia in sports, the trio announced via press release on Friday.

Per the release, the addition of these three new Athlete Ally Ambassadors is part of an ongoing effort to empower professional athletes to help make sports a welcoming environment for all. Former Browns linebacker and Athlete Ally Ambassador Scott Fujita directly helped grow the movement in Cleveland with these new additions.

“I believe that everyone should be treated the same,” said Jackson. “That’s my thought as a person and as a teammate. Joining Athlete Ally is my way of letting it be known that I would respect any teammate – gay or straight – it just doesn’t matter.”

Chris Gocong, a member of the Browns for the past two seasons prior to being released earlier this spring, added that  Fujita was a “pioneer” in the movement to create an inclusive environment in the NFL. “I feel it is my duty to help continue that work as the league moves from tolerance to acceptance,” he said. “I want to support any athlete to feel more comfortable and confident being himself.”

As Athlete Ally Ambassadors, Jackson, Gocong, and Barton join the NFL contingent of Fujita, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe, Donte Stallworth, and  Connor Barwin, as well as tennis greats Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, NBA star Kenneth Faried.

[Related: What’s the opposite of transparency?]

NFL News: Scott Fujita to retire as a New Orleans Saint

Scott Fujita’s career in Cleveland went out with a whimper as he missed significant time due to injury, but he apparently wanted to be remembered as a Saint anyway. Fujita reportedly signed a one-day deal with the team that he helped to win a Super Bowl so he could retire there.

In the end, Fujita’s time in Cleveland will be marred by his lack of play due to injury and unfortunately bringing the New Orleans bounty scandal with him. In the end, Fujita was fully exonerated, but it sure did bring an unwanted distraction to the team last year, at least for fans who follow team news all year long.

In the PFT post, Mike Florio talks about what kind of an impact that Fujita can make in his life after football, and even as Fujita wasn’t my favorite Browns player over the last few years, I can’t disagree. Fujita shines in the public eye when dealing with issues. Whether he chooses to move into politics or commentary on TV, he will be served well.

In fact, considering what we’ve seen over the past few years from the higher ups in the NFL Players’ association, it might even be wise to keep Fujita involved as a spokesman for NFL players as a labor group going forward.

[Related: Hooray! NFL Network and ESPN agree not to tip draft picks via Twitter]

Neck injury could threaten Scott Fujita’s career

This weekend the Cleveland Browns were without Scott Fujita, and now we are hearing some grim news about the prospects of seeing him on the field ever again.

Fujita has a neck injury that could be career-ending, and he may never play another game, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports.

That news comes as a major surprise. Fujita missed Sunday’s game against the Bengals with what the team called a shoulder injury, but he had played in four straight games before that, and there have been no previous reports that Fujita’s career could be in jeopardy.

Some Browns fans have had harsh words for Fujita as his career wanes. Personally, I’ve been irritated that Browns fans have had to deal with his actions as a member of the Saints and their alleged bounty program. Regardless, any player who steps on an NFL field deserves at least a bit of respect for the danger they put themselves in to play a game – yes for personal gain – but also to entertain the masses.

It is a much nicer story for guys to get to go out on their own terms, and it seems as if that might not be the case for Scott Fujita.

[Related: Parody: 2012 Browns beat 2011 Browns]

NFL News: James-Michael Johnson “Looks Like He’s Ready to Go”

During his Friday afternoon press conference, Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur stated that linebacker James-Michael Johnson could make his first appearance since injuring his oblique in the team’s final preseason contest.

“He had a very good week,” said Shurmur of the rookie linebacker. “I watched him pretty closely because he hasn’t been out here much. He practiced fast. He looks like he’s ready to go.”

Johnson reportedly practiced at both outside linebacker spots and will offer considerable speed to the team’s linebacker corps. The New York Giants, the team’s opponent this coming Sunday, offers one of the worst rushing games in the NFL, but Johson will still be counted on to drop back into coverage as well as providing a boost to the team’s otherwise up-and-down special teams unit. A fourth-round draft pick, Johnson is listed as the reserve strong-side linebacker behind veteran Scott Fujita.

[Related: Depth Chart Demands: Is it Josh Gordon’s Turn?]

NFL News: Browns’ Fujita Will Meet Roger Goodell on Friday

Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita will meet with commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday.

With the topic being the veteran player’s involvement in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, it was originally reported that Fujita would speak with Goodell in a video conference last Tuesday. The league, however, opted not to proceed and requested a face-to-face meeting. Fujita is the only player from the Saints’ bounty scandal that has not met with the NFL since an appeals panel overturned their suspensions.

Fujita was initially suspended for three games in the initial fallout of the scandal, but has since had the punishment vacated by a three-person panel. The 33-year old played in the team’s Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, recording four tackles.In a recently released affidavit, Fujita’s name was nowhere to be found.

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2012-09-21 – Craig and Rick Preview Browns vs Bills]

(Source: Adam Schefter)

NFL News: Browns’ Fujita Not Named in Bounty Affidavit

Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita may be one step closer to having his name cleared in the New Orleans Saints bounty-based scandal that has permeated his life for the last several months.

Per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, in a signed affidavit turned over to the NFL as it prepared for its meeting with suspended “Bountygate” players, gave a lengthy statement on the origins of the Saints’ pay-for-performance program. Fujita’s name does not appear anywhere in said affidavit.

In 2009, per the testimony, Sains defensive captains Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith “endorsed the program,” made initial contributions to the pool of funds, and would contribute additional funds as players were subject to financial penalties for penalties, missed opportunities to make a big play, and mental errors. Players then reportedly received payments for sacks, interceptions, fumbles caused, interceptions caused, and defensive touchdowns.

Fujita was suspended for three games in the initial fallout of the scandal, but has since had the punishment vacated by a three-person panel. The 33-year old played in the team’s Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, recording four tackles. He was scheduled to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL officials on Tuesday to discuss their suspensions, but the meeting will be rescheduled.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Game 2: Winners and Losers]

NFL News: Scott Fujita Speaks Out About Replacement Refs

Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita played his first game of the season Sunday, and today decided to voice his displeasure about the replacement officials working the games.

Fujita is a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee, and was part of the negotiations for the current CBA.

[Related: What happened on D'Qwell Jackson's unnecessary roughness penalty]

While We’re Waiting … Buckeyes Hold On, Braxton’s Crazy Run, Scott Fujita’s Playing Time, ‘Gangnam Style’

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Yikes. That game wasn’t pretty at all: “This isn’t supposed to happen. Not at Ohio Stadium. Not against 17-point underdogs. But Ohio State found itself tied at 28 with unranked California late in the fourth quarter. The outlook wasn’t good, either. Cal had dominated the second half, holding Ohio State to barely more than 100 yards of offense after the Buckeyes racked up 234 first-half yards and a 20-7 halftime lead. When Braxton Miller trotted out on the field with four minutes, 20 seconds on the game clock and Ohio State’s season possibly hanging in the balance, he was as confident as ever.” [Kyle Rowland/Eleven Warriors] [Read more...]

Scott Fujita, Jordan Norwood Among Inactives For Browns Vs. Eagles

The Cleveland Browns have released their list of inactives for Sunday’s opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Reports surfaced yesterday that newly reinstated linebacker Scott Fujita was unlikely to play, and that was made official Sunday morning. Along with Fujita, Usama Young and Trevin Wade are also inactive on the defensive side of the ball. The complete list:

QB Thad Lewis , WR Jordan Norwood, RB Chris Ogbonnaya, CB Trevin Wade, FS Usama Young, OT Oniel Cousins, LB James-Michael Johnson.

The Eagles list includes former Browns safety David Sims. Philly’s complete list:

DB Colt Anderson, T Demetress Bell, WR Riley Cooper, DE Vinny Curry, RB Dion Lewis, T Nate Menkin, DB David Sims

[RelatedCleveland Browns Season Predictions]

Scott Fujita ‘Unlikely’ To Play Sunday In Browns Opener, According To Report

Scott Fujita was granted new life on Friday afternoon when a judge overturned a three-game suspension handed out by Roger Goodell for the Saints bounty scandal. Fujita had been working out individually at Baldwin Wallace to stay in shape during his mandated time away from the team. Earlier on Friday, Pat Shurmur said, “I don’t see any reason why he can’t play” when asked about the (at the time) hypothetical of his suspension being overturned.

But a report from Jason La Canfora indicated otherwise late Friday night:

With Chris Gocong and James-Michael Johnson down, suddenly having Fujita available on Sunday was a huge boost. The Browns were granted a roster exemption by the NFL, so they’re allowed to carry 54 players and don’t need to cut anyone now that Fujita has been activated. The veteran linebacker injured his knee in the Browns first preseason game against Detroit and did not play again.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Season Predictions]

Saints Bounty-Based Suspensions Overturned in Appeal

Linebacker Scott Fujita may in fact get to suit up for the Cleveland Browns on Opening Day. From Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter, a three-member appeals panel has overturned the ruling that resulted in players being suspended in the New Orleans Saints bounty case.

The panel overturned a ruling by NFL system arbiter Stephen Burbank that commissioner Rodger Goodell was within his powers under the current league collective bargaining agreement to suspend four players for their alleged roles in a pay to injure system. Fujita was handed a three-game suspension for his alleged role in the scandal, a ruling which was quickly appealed.

Though dealing in hypothetical earlier on Friday, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur stated that he anticipated Fujita playing in the contest against the Philadelphia Eagles in the event that the suspension was indeed overturned. The team will have to make a roster move as the veteran linebacker was on the reserved/suspended list heading into the season, thus not counting against the team’s 53-man roster.

Update: The Cleveland Browns have been granted a roster exemption for Sunday and will take to the field with 54 men.

PFT: Fujita right to be optimistic about week 1

It seemed mysterious to everyone when Scott Fujita proclaimed he was optimistic about playing in the first week of the NFL season. Now Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk has come up with a theory that could explain that optimism. He discusses it in his video podcast PFT Live.

What it boils down to is this. Judge Helen G. Berrigan has expressed concerns over the league’s process. She also indicated that she needed to wait for another hearing to be completed and could potentially do something after August 31st. Assuming the holiday weekend, if Berrigan makes a ruling or even just issues a temporary restraining order that allows the players to play while the issue is getting resolved, it does seem likely that Fujita would be able to suit up for the Browns.

I know Florio sometimes takes some heat from around the Internet for his opinions and even some of his reporting, but his deconstruction of legal issues is unquestionably valuable.  Interesting stuff that could impact the Browns, and to their credit, none of this has seemed to be a team distraction as of yet.

[Related: Shurmur: James-Michael Johnson Might Start for Fujita]

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Shurmur: James-Michael Johnson Might Start for Fujita

Getting any kind of commitment from an NFL head coach prior to roster cutdowns is a miracle. This is not to criticize Pat Shurmur. There is a lot of football and a lot of moving pieces between now and the opening week against the Philadelphia Eagles. One piece that won’t be moving is Scott Fujita serving his suspension. One of the biggest questions the Browns needed to answer this training camp – even before Chris Gocong’s injury – was who would start in Fujita’s place during his three game suspension. According to Pat Shurmur today, it seems like James-Michael Johnson is on track.

(On if James-Michael Johnson is ready to start at linebacker if they don’t have Scott Fujita)- “I think the production that he has given us in the games so far points to the fact that he may be a starter for us this year. He has a chance. Again, I don’t want to make any proclamations at this point, but I think he will continue to improve as well. I said it after the game, but I thought that young linebacking core did an outstanding job against Green Bay.”

(On Johnson has progressed through training camp)- “He’s getting better. I think you see his run fits are better. He matches up better in coverage. He runs to the ball extremely well. I think as he dives in on the match-ups of the team we’re playing, and can pick up little pointers as to whether it’s run-pass, or where they’re going with the football, he’ll even be better.”

Johnson looked good and active in the game against Green Bay. It’s just a pre-season game, but that’s great news for the Browns and Browns fans. It sure beats the alternative. Plus, if it translates well into the regular season, it would be quite a score to get such quick value from a 4th round draft pick (120th overall) in his first season in the league.

[Related: Browns Veterans Return, Continue to Praise the Kids]

Browns vs. Lions – 1st Quarter Recap – Browns Starters Struggle

The Browns faced the Lions in the GLC and the first quarter was certain to be the most interesting as Brandon Weeden and company would take most of their reps before departing. Here’s how it went.

Brandon Weeden had a mixed first drive. He threw the ball to the ground a couple times and eventually fumbled the ball away. Not before he threw a pass to Mohamed Massaquoi for a reception and what is presumed to be a concussion. Massaquoi retreated to the locker room very quickly and would not return. The shot didn’t even appear to be that big as he collided with the shoulder of a Detroit defensive back.

Weeden also made a very nice long reception down the left sideline to Travis Benjamin who got past his man for the ball over the top for 34 yards. It was clearly the offensive highlight of the first half. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Training Camp Report: 8/4/12

Buster Skrine had a pick and a big hit

Update:Reports from Berea are that Gocong has a torn achilles and will have season ending surgery as early as Monday.

The big story coming out of training camp today is obviously the injury of LB Chris Gocong. The injury occurred on a goal line 11-on-11 drill. Gocong was covering TE Jordon Cameron. Cameron and Gocong both went up for the ball, and when they came down Gocong was in immediate pain. It did not appear as if Gocong stepped on Cameron, but rather hurt himself on the way up.

He was on the field for several minutes before the trainers finally helped him to the cart and took him off the field.

The Browns will have an MRI performed on his right ankle/foot. The buzz around camp after practice was a possible achilles injury, and a serious one at that. Browns players certainly are hoping for the best, but fear the worst. Shurmur would call the injury unfortunate and “an unitended consequence of the game.”

Kaluka Maiava said that the loss of Gocong would definitely hurt the team- “He’s a great leader on the defense. A positive guy. The defense just works better with him in there.”

Maiava would be one of the players that would see more playing time if Gocong is out for an extended period. With the Fujita suspension, he and James-Michael Johnson could both be pressed into starter’s duty. Kaluka added he felt like he was in the best shape of his life, and has a good grasp of the playbook. [Read more...]

NFLPA Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Scott Fujita

The Associated Press is reporting that the NFL Player’s Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three suspended players, including Browns’ LB Scott Fujita-

“The NFL said the action is an “improper attempt to litigate” and said there is “no basis for asking a federal court to put its judgment in place of the procedures agreed upon with the NFLPA in collective bargaining.”

“These procedures have been in place, and have served the game and players well, for many decades,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press.

The lawsuit asks a judge to set aside earlier arbitration rulings and order a new arbitrator to preside over the matter. The suit comes two days after Goodell denied appeals by four players. The other player, Jonathan Vilma, has sued the NFL and Goodell separately.”

Nothing more American than the good old fashioned lawsuit.

[Related: Bounty suspensions upheld]

NFL News: Bounty Suspensions Upheld by Goodell

Cleveland Browns’ LB Scott Fujita had hoped that his suspension would be reduced through appeal. That will not be the case.

CBS Sports is reporting that Roger Goodell has upheld the suspensions for all players involved in the Saints ‘Bounty Program’. Fujita, who was suspended for the first three games of this season without pay will be able to participate in training camp and pre-season games, but will miss games against the Eagles, Bengals and Bills.

One thing is for certain, we haven’t heard the last of this one.

[Related: Fujita- NFL is engaged in a smear campaign]