On Friday's Edge of Sports radio show (SiriusXM), Dave Zirin interviewed Scott Fujita, who was speaking for the first time since the players' appeal hearing/circus on June 18.
Sportsillustrated.cnn.com posted the full transcript of the interview Friday evening, FrenchFreak brought it to us in a Fanshot that same day, Fujita: 'What the hell are you doing Roger?', and now I am bringing actual quoted excerpts to you today, after the jump, in order to foster more full discussion of it.
When asked to give his impression on the evidence, Fujita characterized the whole situation like this:
"I think it would've been nice to have the opportunity ... to try to talk it out and explain where the misinterpretations are from their end. I looked through all that stuff closely. I know exactly what [happened] and what didn't. The problem with this whole thing is that it's just an unfortunate situation where you have a defensive coordinator [Gregg Williams] who I like a lot, but said a lot of really vulgar, inappropriate, outlandish things. You couple that with some guys who occasionally throw in some money for big plays -- which I have admitted to doing -- and it becomes a perfect storm, and also it comes at a time politically when I think the league was looking for something like this.
"So, it's unfortunate. It's unfortunate that a lot of players have been dragged into it when the reality is it's just a kind of loose, joking around, performance-type system of motivation coupled with some really, really inappropriate language that I'm sensitive to, but again, it is just language."
And when pressed about the "pay to injure" aspect...(emphasis added)
"Absolutely. I was there for one year in 2009, and, without question, there was nobody paying or receiving any money for causing injury. I've talked to enough guys who I'm close with who were there for the seasons after I left, and it's the same thing.
"People said I was stupid for confessing to paying for big plays. I didn't think of that as a big deal. Is it against the rules? Technically, yeah, it's against the rules, but that's the way it was done when I was a young player and I'm not ashamed of that. If that's what I'm going down for, let's call it for what it is. The problem is that the league has billed this thing as being this super-organized pay-to-injure scheme, which it never was.
"Now, it turns out when the evidence is getting released that there is actually very little to nothing on anything pay-to-injure related, especially as it pertains to me. So, again, if it's pay-for-performance, let's call it what it is, and if I have to take my medicine for that, I'll do that, and we'll move on, but that's not what the league has billed this as."
Then, Zirin asked him about the discipline in relation to the pending litigation on the NFL withholding concussion information from players, and here's what Fuj said:
"Yeah, I don't disagree with that at all. I think this is kind of the perfect storm, where you have an unprecedented lawsuit coming down on the league, a coach who says these wild things, and players who on occasion throw some money in there for some big plays. The league, they are just masters at pushing liability elsewhere. They're very good at what they do. They are very bright, and they are very good businessmen."
Here's what he says to those who suggest he should just suck it up and take his medicine...
"It's more than just a couple games. My reputation is a lot more valuable to me than three game checks. So for someone to say 'just take your medicine and move on,' my response is no. If you're accused of something you didn't do, and they were going to not only ruin your reputation, but also take a lot of money away from you, you would not just lie down. So it's troubling. It's been hard for me. It's been a stress at home. I'm lucky to have such a supportive family with young kids who don't understand any of this kind of stuff so that brightens my day, but it has been very hard for me."
...and this is the closing that contains the sweet line FF quoted in his Fanshot title:
If you could say anything to Roger Goodell right now, what would it be?
"I saw him in the [appeal] hearings and he offered to shake all of our hands. Some of the other players didn't, but I went ahead and shook his hand, and I just said to him, 'What the hell are you doing, Roger?' He had nothing to say. His face sure turned red, though."
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So what about this interview? I think he made a good point about misinterpretations.
Where in this whole investigation process was the part where Goodell actually presents everything he's dug up to the Saints, and says/asks, "This certainly looks a lot like a 'bounty' program that would be both a violation of the CBA and a dangerous, morally reprehensible deal of paying incentives to players for deliberately injuring opponents. Would you please explain to me what this is, exactly?"
We'll see where this leads...