Hargrove Appeals NFL's Suspension

Anthony Hargrove (Derick Hingle/USP)

In its May 2 statement, the NFL reported that Hargrove had been untruthful to investigators about the bounty program. In an update to this story, Yahoo! Sports is reporting Hargrove was told to lie by Saints coaches.

Jonathan Vilma isn't the only one appealing his NFL suspension for participating in the Saints' bounty program.

Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, Saints defensive end Will Smith and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita filed their appeals Monday, and will have their cases heard by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Even as Hargrove was appealing his suspension, it was learned that a signed document was received by the league through the NFLPA that details how he was instructed in 2010 by current and former New Orleans assistant coaches Joe Vitt and Gregg Williams to deny the team had a bounty program.

A copy of the signed declaration was received by Yahoo! Sports on Monday and reported by Jason Cole, who wrote that a source said last week that the NFLPA submitted the declaration with the intention of proving that Hargrove and other Saints players were only following orders by coaches.

In the document, Hargrove said that on approximately Feb. 24, 2010, he was called to a meeting with Williams and, after initially talking about him starting at defensive end, the conversation centered on denying that the team ever used bounties.

The signed document, a graphic of which was posted by Yahoo!, said, in part: "Williams said he was going to deny the existence of any bounty on any player to the NFL, and I should deny it, too. Coach Vitt also said he was going to deny the existence of any bounties. Coach Williams said: "Those (obscenity deleted ...referring to NFL) have been trying to get me for years," and if we all "stay on the same page, this will blow over."

The NFL's investigation into the bounty scandal cited "multiple independent sources" who confirmed that Vilma offered specific cash bounties for any player who knocked Kurt Warner or Brett Favre out of their respective playoff games during the Saints' Super Bowl run following the 2009 season.

Hargrove, who signed with the Packers this spring after playing for the Seahawks in 2011, was suspended eight games. In its May 2 statement, the NFL reported that Hargrove had been untruthful to investigators about the bounty program, but submitted a signed declaration to the league that established both the existence of the program and his participation in it.

Of the three who appealed their suspensions on Monday, Smith is the only one still with the Saints. He was suspended for the first four games of the regular season after the NFL's investigation concluded that he assisted former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the team's bounty program during his time as a captain. He had 35 tackles and 6.5 sacks for the Saints in 14 games in 2011.

Fujita, who signed with Cleveland following the Saints' Super Bowl victory in 2010, was suspended for three games after the investigation found that he'd pledged "large cash rewards" for plays during which opposing players were injured. In 10 games for the Browns last season, Fujita made 50 tackles and intercepted a pass.

Hargrove, who signed with the Packers this spring after playing for the Seahawks in 2011, was suspended eight games. In its May 2 statement, the NFL reported that Hargrove had been untruthful to investigators about the bounty program, but submitted a signed declaration to the league that established both the existence of the program and his participation in it. In 15 games for the Seahawks last year, Hargrove had 18 tackles and three sacks.

Monday was the deadline for the suspended players to file their appeals with the league.

Per the labor agreement between the NFL and the players' association, the appeals will go directly to commissioner Roger Goodell.


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