Report says Hargrove was told to ‘play dumb’

NFL: Sworn statement says ex-Seattle player was told to deny Saints had a bounty program

McClatchy news servicesMay 8, 2012 

Former Seahawks and Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove describes in a sworn statement how he was told by ex-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current New Orleans assistant head coach Joe Vitt to deny the existence of a bounty program to NFL investigators.

In a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press, Hargrove acknowledges that he acted on Williams’ and Vitt’s instructions to “play dumb” if asked whether he was aware of bounties being placed on former Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre or any other player.

The declaration does not go into specifics about just what Hargrove knew or did not know about the bounty program in New Orleans, and for that reason it has become a point of contention between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

The NFL has said that Hargrove’s words acknowledge the existence of a bounty program and show that Hargrove initially lied to NFL investigators about it.

Hargrove, currently with Green Bay, was one of four players who received suspensions of various lengths in connection with the bounty probe. Hargrove was suspended eight games, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire season, Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita for three games.

The NFL has said the Saints’ bounty program was run by Williams from 2009 through 2011. Williams has been suspended indefinitely by the league.

All four players are appealing. The players and the union argue that no appeal should be heard before NFLPA grievances are resolved questioning NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to discipline the players and to hear their appeals.

EXTRA POINTS

The Minnesota House approved a plan to build a $975 million stadium for the Vikings, the Vikings’ share is $532 million. … Brian Xanders, denied in his quest to have more say over personnel matters, is out as general manager of the Broncos, with executive vice president John Elway playing a bigger role in the team. … Patriots tackle Matt Light, a three-time Pro Bowl player and one of a handful of players to start five Super Bowls, retired. Quarterback Tom Brady tried to persuade Light to return for another season by offering him a year’s supply of Kit Kats, his favorite candy bar. … The Dolphins extended linebacker Cameron Wake’s contract through the 2016 season for a reported $49 million, with $20 million guaranteed. … Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff said he had discussed with Tim Tebow using him on special teams and the backup quarterback was amenable to it. … Receiver Jabar Gaffney, who played for New England from 2006-08, re-joined the team. … Raiders safety Tyvon Branch signed his $6.2 million franchise tag tender. … The Ravens signed defensive tackle Ryan McBean, who will sit out the first six games this season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. … Fred Jackson, Buffalo’s leading rusher in each of the past three seasons, signed a two-year contract with the Bills potentially worth $9 million. … The Vikings released 16-year veteran placekicker Ryan Longwell, a Seattle native.

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