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Until bounty scandal Scott Fujita was one of the NFL’s model citizens

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So many reasons to love Cleveland Browns LB Scott Fujita.

As I said before, I totally understand why the NFL had to come down hard on the Saints regarding their bounty program. With over a dozen lawsuits filed against the NFL regarding injuries and medications used the league just can’t afford anymore liability. For these same reasons I understand that the players involved have to be punished too. Right now, it looks like  Scott Fujita, once a vocal leader of are the two that are being focused on the most.

It’s hard not to feel a lot of sympathy for Fujita who has been a model citizen both on and off the field for a very long time. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true.  Fujita has been the kind of guy the NFL claims it wants to promote: intelligent, aware, thoughtful, respectful, eloquent, and charitable. And it wasn’t just sports sites that noticed what a great guy Fujita is. Check out this piece from called “Reasons to Adore Saints linebacker Scott Fujita.”2) He lent his name to the National Equality March and has been outspoken about gay rights issues.

3) He supports an orphanage in New Orleans and started speaking out on gay rights in part because of his objection to laws limiting gay adoption. “What [such laws] are really saying is that the concern with one’s sexual orientation or one’s sexual preference outweighs what’s really important, and that’s finding safe homes for children,” he has said. “It’s also saying that we’d rather have kids bounce around from foster home to foster home throughout the course of their childhood, than end up in a permanent home.”

4) He’s active on behalf breast cancer awareness (his mother is a two-time survivor), filming PSAs for Susan G. Komen New Orleans Race for the Cure and wearing a pink hat during interviews.

5) He’s not afraid to speak up for his beliefs in a respectful, reasoned way. “People tell me, hey, that’s pretty courageous. You come out in favor of gay rights. I don’t think it’s that courageous,” he told The Times. “I think I have an opinion, that I wish was shared by everybody, but I honestly believe that it’s shared by more [football players] than we know because a lot of people just won’t speak out about it.”

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Upon leaving the Saints, he donated half of his Super Bowl check to charity with part of the money going to Haiti and the other half to an organization in New Orleans. And even when he was engaged in the lockout battle and the tide turned against Goodell making it easier for players to criticize him harshly and publicly Fujita was ever the diplomatic one. It’s all of these things that make me root for the guy and I hope that the league isn’t too harsh on him whenever they hand out the inevitable penalty. But due to the breadth of the case the NFL has against the Saints and the fact that Fujita has challenged Goodell in the past I’m worried that Fujita is going to feel the wrath.

For his part, Fujita has gone on record as saying that he did NOT contribute to bounties to injure other players. In fact, he says he didn’t even contribute to a collective pot of money that may have gone to players who injured others purposefully. He has stated that his role in any sort of bounty program was to personally pay other players whatever he promised them for a big play though he admitted that he done that quite a bit over the years and that, too, is against the rules.



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