If all that Scott Fujita took from four seasons playing for the New Orleans Saints was a familiarity with the city's best restaurants, he's a lucky man.
The truth is that Fujita did more than dine well in the Crescent City. He was part of a resurgence of a long-forlorn franchise that breathed life into a city that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2006.
Now in his first season as a linebacker for the Browns, Fujita would like nothing more than to help provide a similar thrill to Browns' fans. If the Saints could win the Super Bowl, as they did last season, anything can happen.
"When I first got there it was seven or eight months after Katrina," Fujita said. "They were just hopeful their team would come back. So it was kind of a different situation. All in all, good, loyal, faithful fans (of both teams) that want to see the team be successful. So, yes, there are some similarities there."
Before winning the Super Bowl with a win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Saints were known as one of the NFL's doormats. From the time of their birth as an expansion franchise in 1967 until recent seasons, the Saints were best known for having fans that occasionally wore paper bags over their heads to express their embarrassment with the franchise.
The Saints could be part of a trivia quiz about the Browns. Question: Name the first team the Browns defeated in the expansion season of 1999? Answer: The Saints. A Hail Mary pass from Tim Couch to Kevin Johnson on the final play gave the Browns a touchdown and a 21-16 win in the Superdome.
That was one of the few highlights the Browns have had since their return to the NFL. They've had just two winning seasons since the return and are now working on head coach number four (not including interim coach Terry Robiskie in 2004).
With the Browns entering Sunday's game in the Superdome at 1-5, Fujita's belief that they can turn things around like the Saints did might not sit well with the fans. The primary hope they have this season is that rookie Colt McCoy might finally solve the problem at quarterback.
In fairness to the defense, players on that side of the ball have performed well. The run defense has made strides and the secondary, while giving up too many big plays, has improved.
Fujita's arrival has been a plus. He's second in tackles and first among the linebackers with 33 tackles. He's been credited with 2.5 of the defense's 10 sacks.
"He's outstanding as a player, very good at the mechanics of it, recognizing the offense and getting the defenses checked," coach Eric Mangini said. "There are certain tools that are available in different coverages, and he uses a lot of them. Those have generated some sacks. He's really good in the room. He understands the things that need to be done consistently to win at a high level. His experience in New Orleans, I think that helps. I'm really happy he's here."
Listening to Fujita describe his experience with the Saints has to make Browns' fans think about what could be.
"The whole thing from start to finish was more than you could ever ask for," Fujita said. "It was incredible. To go into there and be part of a rebirth. From top to bottom was a great experience."