Legendary senior writer jclombardi discusses DE Hargrove & Saints bounty scandal.
Photo Credit: AP.
With DE Hargrove suspended eights games for his participation in the Saints bounty scandal, the NFL and NFLPA are publicly posturing what Hargrove's declaration "did admit to"? In his letter suspending Hargrove, NFL league commissioner Goodell told Hargrove that his “declaration makes clear that the [pay-for-performance/bounty] program existed at the Saints, and establishes that you knew about it and participated in it....[Your] declaration acknowledges that you lied, but claims that you were instructed to do so by the coaching staff.”
Yahoo! Sports obtained Hargrove’s signed declaration admitting the existence of and his participation in the Saints bounty program. The declaration is here.
The declaration is significant both for what it says, and for what it doesn’t say.As to what it says, Hargrove contends that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt both told Hargrove to “just play dumb” about the existence of a bounty program when questioned by NFL Security in 2010, And so, when the NFL said last week in the announcement of the suspensions of Hargrove and three other players that the declaration “established not only the existence of the program with the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it,” that statement was blatantly incorrect. And when “independent” counsel Mary Jo White explained in a conference call last week that the “thrust” of the declaration was Hargrove’s acknowledgment of “the nature of the program and his participation in it,” that was blatantly incorrect, too.
Perhaps the league has other evidence. But to me, and I would think most people, Hargrove's admission that he was instructed to deny the existence of a bounty program is not the same as acknowledging he either knew about it or participated. It isn't even enough to say that Hargrove lied. He followed instructions to deny knowledge. If that's the only evidence the league has on Hargrove, then an appeal initiated Monday might have some merit.
Meanwhile fans, listen to this PFT discussion about it and possible future consequences: