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.
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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.
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