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Fujita, wife sold on Browns' vision

By Marla Ridenour Published: March 10, 2010

New Browns' linebacker Scott Fujita said he asked a lot of tough questions of president Mike Holmgren and coach Eric Mangini before signing a reported three-year, $14 million free agent contract and leaving the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints Sunday.

Interviewed on Sirius XM's Mad Dog Radio by host Gary Williams Wednesday, eight-year veteran Fujita said he arrived with a ''unique set of ideas for how a program should be headed.''

''When I sit down I want to know that there’s a shared vision,'' Fujita said. ''When I sat down in New Orleans four years ago with (coach) Sean (Payton) and (general manager) Mickey (Loomis), and everybody thought I was crazy for even taking that visit, it was the same conversation. I want to know that I’m on the same page with the people who I’m going to be working for.

''So when I got to Cleveland I had a lot of the same types of questions with Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini. I know there are a lot of perception things out there about what’s going on in Cleveland. I had all those questions answered. I never judge anybody or anything until I can sit down with the guy face to face, man to man, and ask those questions and get some answers. And if I didn’t feel good about the answers I received, then my wife and I wouldn’t be taking our kids up there. That’s pretty much the bottom line.''

Asked if Mangini's job security was on his list of questions, Fujita said, ''Yeah. I asked a lot of those personal-type questions because this is a huge personal decision for my family and I to move up there. We covered all the bases. We were in there a long time with a lot of meetings.''

Fujita said his wife Jaclyn accompanied him on the visit and was a ''big part of the decision.''

''It was just first class all the way,'' Fujita said. ''They really made a huge effort to make our visit as good as possible, to answer every question we had, and they just really took care of us.''

Fujita said while he was in meetings with the coaches, Holmgren and Browns staffers went out of their way to make sure his wife was comfortable sitting in a conference room.

''Everybody made time to go spend time with her, sit down,'' Fujita said. ''Mike Holmgren spent a couple of hours with her and I appreciate that kind of stuff because I know some places wouldn’t take that extra step and they did for us.''

Fujita said after spending four years in New Orleans, he realized the Saints' off-season priority was their younger players.

''The business of the NFL can always be strange and free agency is unpredictable,'' he said. ''A lot of people want to ask ‘Why right now? Why are you doing this?’ To be honest, the decision was pretty much made for me and that’s the bottom line. Any time you let a couple of your veteran free agents test the market, that means the team is willing to let you go and walk away and that’s kind of how I feel. I’m sure (safety Darren) Sharper might be feeling the same way right now.

''They have a lot of things they needed to do in starting to take care of some of those young guys who need to start getting paid. Jahri Evans, Roman Harper, Pierre Thomas, they’ve got to take care of these guys at some point, otherwise it’s going to be a bitter locker room.''

Fujita said he was not bitter about the Saints' stance.

''When you have kind of radio silence on their end and they’re letting you go out and take visits and get offers from other teams, it’s just kind of the writing is on the wall,'' he said. ''But I feel great about the situation in Cleveland. I wouldn’t have taken the visit if I didn’t think it might be good fit. And then when I got up there, believe me, I evaluated the situation very critically. I felt great about the program and I’m excited about it because it’s a good match.''


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