Fujita’s wife states a case

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P.M. Cleveland Browns links: Scott Fujita’s wife states a case for health care

When linebacker Scott Fujita went down with a knee injury last season, he was leading the Browns in tackles. His loss probably cost Cleveland at least two games. He called the defensive plays, MADE the defensive plays. Since then, he’s been on the forefront of the current labor situation, generally is thought to be a smart, head’s-up player. A good teammate and a good team player.

Who knew his wife, Jaclyn, is the true brains in the family?

Actually, we’re pretty sure Fujita himself would make that same joke. But there is no denying one thing: that like attracts like. Fujita’s on- and off-field intelligence have manifested themselves in many ways. But possibly the smartest thing he ever did was marry Jaclyn.

Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer; Scott Fujita has been a spiritual and vocal leader of the New Orleans Saints and the Browns, as well as the NFL players during the current labor situation. His wife, Jaclyn, made a calm but impassioned plea for health care for players in a piece for The Nation.

Now we don’t know Jaclyn Fujita from Adam (or Eve, which seems more appropriate). We’re not best buddies, don’t share recipes or swap wallpaper swatches. But we really — and we mean REALLY — like her blog about what it’s like to be an NFL wife. And specifically, an NFL wife whose husband is a key player in an ongoing labor dispute.

In the blog, originally written just for “cathartic” purposes and eventually published in thenation.com, Jaclyn Fujita delivers an articulate plea for owners not to make nice, but to accept their responsibility in providing health care for the men who’ve turned many of those owners from millionaires to billionaires.

The best part is that she does so unapologetically. This is our lot, she says. We chose this, she writes. We knew that the business of football means that you can lead a team to the promised land — i.e. the Super Bowl — and be released just weeks later, and the Fujitas discovered right after the Saints improbably won the Lombardi Trophy.

But the day will come when they decide to walk away from the sport they played for the last twenty years of their lives. The sport which taught them to play through pain, to never complain, to never stop, to yell, to scream, to hit, to fight, to destroy the man in front of them, to work until they puke, to lay their body on the line every Sunday and just hope that they walk off that field and aren’t carried. That day will come when they leave this game—the game that used them and abused them, yet the game they loved so passionately.

Each man will walk away thinking that if his knees are to give out, hopefully it happens in the next five years before his health coverage expires. And if he has to cover himself with money from his own pocket, he will hope it doesn’t break him. Insurance companies aren’t looking to cover the ten-year veteran pro football player with the pounding migraines and ALS or severe depression that could be lurking just around the corner. His knees and back are sure to give out faster than the average person, and he may lose his mind due to all the concussions.

And here they are, simply asking the men who profit from their work, to please look after their health, as they should have done throughout their career. They ask this so that someday, the young boy who chooses this path knows he will be protected the way he deserves.

It’s a fascinating plea from a woman who seems to be just as fascinating. Doesn’t matter who you think is right in the labor situation; this is worth a read just because of the backstory information you’ll get.

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