Scott Fujita has signed a one-day contract so that he can retire as a New Orleans Saint, and it's tough to beat how he did it: at Machu Picchu in Peru.
Fujita traveled to the Andes Mountains with former Saints teammate Steve Gleason, who is currently fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease. "What better place to reach the end of the road," Fujita said in a statement, "than here at 10,000 feet above sea level, in the Peruvian Andes overlooking Machu Picchu with my dear friend Steve Gleason?"
Fujita, age 33, played four seasons with New Orleans, including their Super Bowl XLIV victory. He played his last three seasons with the Cleveland Browns, and also spent time with the Chiefs and Cowboys. Over his 143-game career, he recorded 767 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and seven interceptions.
The Saints noted that Fujita was New Orleans' first free-agent signing after the arrival of Sean Payton, and was an important element in the rebuilding of both the team and the city after Katrina. "It was an important acquisition for us, getting a player of his caliber to come to New Orleans despite the conditions for a number of reasons," Saints GM Mickey Loomis said, "because he saw an opportunity to become involved in the rebuilding of the city, yet quickly realized how important the team was to that effort."
Fujita was one of four Saints players implicated in the bounty scandal. His initial three-game suspension was lowered to one game by commissioner Roger Goodell, and then vacated entirely by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
"That whole mess helped me appreciate my teammates and the time that I spent playing the game," Fujita told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Considering how ridiculous the whole thing was, (being cleared) helped me sleep a lot easier."
And from there, retirement was on the horizon. Fujita noted that neck injuries played a role in his decision, but that he knew his day had come. "Timing-wise, it just seemed appropriate," he added. "This morning I woke up and hiked to the top of Machu Picchu and watched the sun rise and contemplated everything. This really is the end of one journey and the start of another."
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-