Fujita, Hargrove, Smith issue joint statement on today's appeal

Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith will show up for their appeal hearing this morning with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the bounty scandal case.

But the three former teammates say – in a joint statement released by the NFLPA – that they do not believe in the case against them and are only showing up because they believe the NFL would paint them in a negative light if they failed to do so.

Here is the letter:

We have purportedly been disciplined by the Commissioner for alleged activities that the National Football League has grossly misrepresented to the public.

We are in attendance today not because we recognize the Commissioner’s jurisdiction to adjudicate regarding these specious allegations, but because we believe the League would attempt to publicly mischaracterize our refusal to attend. We will not address the substance of the NFL’s case because this is not the proper venue for adjudication, and there has been no semblance of due process afforded to us.

As veteran players of 11, 9 and 9 years in this League, we are profoundly disappointed with the NFL’s conduct in this matter. We know what the NFL has publicly said we did, and the Commissioner has chosen to try to punish us and disparage our characters based on semantics, not facts. Words are cheap and power is fleeting.

Shame on the National Football League and Commissioner Goodell for being more concerned about ‘convicting’ us publicly than being honorable and fair to men who have dedicated their professional lives to playing this game with honor.

-- Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith

It sounds to us like the three players and NFLPA are aware that an appeal to Goodell, the man who handed down the suspensions, is unlikely to be successful. We’ll see what transpires in a short while.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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