CLEVELAND – Scott Fujita may have another fight to win.
The Cleveland Browns linebacker, who has spent much of this year trying to clear his name after being accused of taking part in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal, reportedly has a possible career-ending neck injury.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen said Monday night that both the Browns and Fujita fear his playing days could be over.
Fujita did not immediately respond to text messages or emails seeking comment. It is believed he is seeking further medical opinions on what the Browns have called a "neck/shoulder" injury. It's not known when Fujita got hurt.
Fujita's agent Don Yee would not confirm the report. The 33-year-old Fujita was inactive for Sunday's game against Cincinnati. He practiced last Wednesday, the same day he sharply criticized NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of the Saints' situation. Fujita's three-game suspension was reduced to one by Goodell but his battle with the league is not yet over.
Goodell acknowledged Fujita did not contribute to the Saints' pay-for-hits pool, but the commissioner angered the 11-year veteran with a letter in which he said Fujita, as a team captain, should have done more to stop other players from participating in the Saints' program.
Fujita responded by saying Goodell abused his power and lambasted the commissioner for his "condescending tone" in a letter. Fujita also questioned the commissioner's record on player safety. Fujita has been an outspoken advocate for player safety as an executive council member of the NFL Players Association.
"For him to come out and say he was disappointed in me for not standing up to my coach," Fujita said after last week. "I haven't had someone tell me they were disappointed in me since I was 12 years old, and that was my father."
Fujita spent four seasons with New Orleans before signing with Cleveland as a free agent in 2010. He was in the final year of his contract and it's possible he will retire after the season.
His setback is just the latest for Cleveland's defense, which has been ravaged by a variety of injuries all year.
Tackle Phil Taylor, who tore a chest muscle while lifting weights in May, hasn't played this season but is eligible to resume practicing this week. Starting linebacker Chris Gocong suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during training camp and Cleveland's secondary has been banged up for weeks.
On Sunday, cornerback Joe Haden returned after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy. Haden had an interception in the Browns' 34-24 win over the Bengals.
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