- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Browns linebacker Scott Fujita's appeal was rejected by the NFL, which should come as a surprise to no one. But there was one interesting turn: there's still a chance that the suspensions could get reduced.
In the league's announcement of upholding the decision, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told Fujita and the three other players disciplined by the bounty scandal (Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith) that he still wants to hear what they have to say.
"While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion,” Goodell wrote to the players. “The record confirms that each of you was given multiple chances to meet with me to present your side of the story. You are each still welcome to do so.”
Don't expect Fujita's suspension to get cut down. I would categorize his chances as slim at best. He received the lightest suspension among the players disciplined and he was the most vocal during the process, calling the NFL investigation "a smear campaign." Fujita also didn't endear himself to the commissioner when he shook hands with him during the hearings only to ask, "'What the hell are you doing, Roger?"
If Fujita misses the first three games of the season, the Browns have a couple of options. Like they did when Fujita was hurt last season, the Browns could move Chris Gocong from weak to strong-side linebacker and start Kaluka Maiava on the weak side. Cleveland could also use rookie fourth-round linebacker James-Michael Johnson at Fujita's spot.