Of all the contract signings in the history of American professional sports, Scott Fujita's might be the most unusual.
The veteran linebacker recently trekked through the Peruvian Andes to the ancient Incan settlement of Machu Picchu. There, he signed a one-day contract with the New Orleans Saints, so he could retire as a member of the team with which he won Super Bowl XLIV.
Fujita, who also played for the Chiefs, Cowboys and most recently, the Browns during his 11-year NFL tenure, felt the greatest connection to New Orleans. He was accompanied on Machu Picchu by former teammate Steve Gleason, who is battling Lou Gehrig's Disease.
"What better place to reach the end of the road than here at 10,000 feet above sea level, in the Peruvian Andes overlooking Machu Picchu with my dear friend Steve Gleason?" Fujita said. "I've been fortunate to play in this league for a long time and for some great organizations, but there is no doubt that my times spent in New Orleans were some of the best years of my life."
Fujita played for New Orleans from 2006 to 2009. He was the first player to sign with the Saints after Hurricane Katrina, and he formed a strong connection to the city in the wake of the natural disaster. After the Saints won the Super Bowl, Fujita donated half of his Super Bowl check to charities in New Orleans and Haiti. New Orleans named Fujita the team's "Man of the Year" in 2009 for his work with charities throughout the city.
"The way the team and the community embraced us when we first arrived, and the way they continue to do so, even today, shows how deep this connection is," Fujita said. "I'm honored to be a part of this organization and so proud to retire as a New Orleans Saint."
Once implicated by commissioner Roger Goodell in the Saints pay-for-play scandal, Fujita appealed his suspension and eventually had his penalty vacated by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Fujita finishes his NFL career with a total of 767 tackles, 23.5 sacks and 11 forced fumbles in 143 games.
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