According to a 10,000-plus word essay documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon published Thursday on his website, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita urged the public release of the audiotape on which former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams encouraged his players to target members of the San Francisco 49ers with the intent to injure them.
Fujita has not responded to an e-mail from the Beacon Journal seeking comment about Pamphilon’s essay.
Fujita, who played for the Saints from 2006-09 before signing with the Browns, received a three-game suspension from the NFL for his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal. He has repeatedly denied the league’s accusations that he contributed money to a pool that paid players to intentionally hurt opponents. Fujita has reserved the right to appeal his suspension, pending the outcome of the NFL Players Association’s grievances against the league regarding Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to determine punishment for the alleged conduct and rule on any appeals.
Here are some points Pamphilon asserts in his essay (click here to read it):
- Pamphilon recorded Williams’ speech Jan. 13 before a playoff game between the Saints and 49ers. He was granted behind-the-scenes access because he was filming a documentary about former Saints player Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS. Pamphilon states he filmed Fujita and Gleason while they were in the Saints’ locker room listening to Williams’ infamous pregame address.
- Pamphilon describes Williams passing out envelopes of money to players while several others began yelling, “Give it back.” Pamphilon speculates the players were encouraging each other to return the money to a pool. Fujita and Gleason smiled as the scene unfolded, according to Pamphilon.
- Pamphilon writes that 15 minutes after Williams met with the players, Fujita reflected on the scene and said, “I can’t believe I used to be that guy.”
- After the NFL announced it would punish Williams for administering a bounty program, Pamphilon states he went back and forth with Fujita, Gleason and Saints quarterback Drew Brees when contemplating whether to release the audio. In one exchange of text messages on March 14 (Pamphilon included several screen shots of texts on his website), Fujita said he and his wife, Jaclyn, watched the Williams tape. One of the screenshots Pamphilon is passing off as a text from Fujita reads: “We were both sick about it. And the thought that I was once semi-complicit in that meat-head culture made me feel even worse.”
- Although Fujita, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee, was initially opposed to the idea of releasing the audio, he eventually played a crucial role in the decision to release it, according to Pamphilon. Pamphilon writes that on March 22 Fujita asked to be sent the audio so he could play it for the NFLPA’s investigative lawyers at union meetings in Florida. According to Pamphilon, Fujita called him on April 3, said he had been in contact with a union lawyer and that the union wouldn’t tell Pamphilon to release the audio, but if he was going to do so, “the sooner the better.” So why would Fujita say “the sooner the better” about the release of the audio after he had hesitated for so long to support the idea of it being released? Pamphilon writes, “The theory was that the audio would pin everything on their former defensive coach and mitigate the player penalties.” The audio was released on April 5.
Again, it’s important to note Fujita has not yet responded to Pamphilon’s version of the events outlined in the essay.
As for Fujita’s opinion about the recording of Williams’ speech (warning: it contains adult language), he was asked about it last week during the Browns’ first practice of organized team activities.
“We’ve all been in locker rooms where inappropriate things are said, that are over the top and sound highly inappropriate to the rest of the world,” Fujita said. “But I’ve been in some locker rooms through high school, college and the league, it sounds crazy, but players for the most part just laugh it off and [say], ‘Hey, that guy’s just being crazy.’ The tape itself, it wasn’t evidence of anything, other than a coach saying some inappropriate things. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that.”