Saints (and Cal) linebacker Scott Fujita

There’s apparently a big football game in Miami on Sunday. And there’s a Berkeley connection in Super Bowl XLIV.

Both The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle have features today on the quotable New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita. The Times makes clear that Fujita absorbed plenty of the spirit of Berkeley during his years at Cal:

In Tuesday’s Super Bowl session with members of the news media, Fujita, who said his teammates give him some gentle teasing in the language of the locker room for his public opinions, reflected on how the campus he attended is known for progressive attitudes.

“There is a certain stigma that comes with being from Berkeley,” he said. “And I’m proud of that stigma.”

He also discussed the attitudes of other athletes toward gay rights.

“By and large, the players are more tolerant than they get credit for,” he said. “It’s not a big issue. Some guys will think you are crazy for believing one way, but they’ll still accept you.”

The Chronicle has a more conventional account of a walk-on success:

Need a Bay Area angle with a Rudy twist? Fujita was a walk-on turned NFL draft pick at Cal.

Need an adoption story with a cultural bonus? Fujita was adopted by a Japanese American father and a Caucasian mom and calls himself “culturally Japanese.”

He takes political stances on family issues and gay rights. He helps Hurricane Katrina victims. He has done about everything he has ever wanted but this: play in a game where all marbles go to the victor.

“I never went to a bowl game at Cal or anything, so this is my first bowl game experience,” Fujita told a television reporter from Japan. “I basically sucked my whole life.”

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...