The New Orleans Saints bounty program drama just will not end. It is a reality show gone bad (like most of them). In the latest episode, a report was released Tuesday that said one of the suspended players, Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, said he was told to deny knowledge of such a system when interviewed by NFL investigators in 2010.
Hargrove, according to the sworn statement acquired by the Associated Press, claimed the alleged order came from assistant coaches Joe Vitt and Gregg Williams. Williams has been suspended indefinitely for his role as the ring leader of the pay-for-injury program and Vitt is the interim head coach because Sean Payton was docked for the upcoming season as part of the NFL’s punishment. Meanwhile, Vitt will be benched for half half of the season.
Mary Jo White, a former US Attorney hired by the NFL to review the investigation said that Hargrove’s statement “acknowledges the nature of the program and his participation in it, and, which is really the thrust of the declaration, that he was told to lie about it, and he did when he was asked about it in 2010 by the NFL investigators.”
Vitt issued a vehement denial of Hargrove’s statement, saying, “At no time did I ever tell Anthony Hargrove to lie or deny the existence (of the alleged bounty program),” he told the The Times-Picayune newspaper. “He can say whatever he wants to say. It just didn’t happen.”
Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, was one of four members of the 2010 Saints suspended last in relation to the bounty investigation, and is slated to miss the first half of the regular season in 2012. In the NFL’s initial statement regarding the suspensions the league said “actively obstructed the league’s 2010 investigation into the program by being untruthful to investigators.”
The statement has become a point of contention between the NFL Players Association and the NFL in the aftermath of the investigation, as the players begin their appeals process. The NFLPA maintains the position that while Hargrove states that he was told to lie, he has not admitted to lying to investigators. For the players, admitting to obstructing the NFL’s investigation would mean certain death for any chance at an appeal.