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Hargrove: Vitt, Williams told me to lie

May 07, 2012 -- 1:32pm
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GREEN BAY – Current Green Bay Packers defensive end and former New Orleans Saints player Anthony Hargrove admits he lied to NFL investigators about the Saints’ bounty program, but he submitted a signed declaration to the NFL in April saying he was instructed to do so by current assistant coach and interim head coach Joe Vitt and by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole.

Cole and Yahoo! Sports obtained a copy of the declaration, which was provided to the NFL by Hargrove through the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA submitted the declaration in hopes of proving that Hargrove and other Saints players were merely following orders by coaches, Cole reported, citing a source.

Hargrove was one of four current or former Saints players – linebacker Scott Fujita, defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma being the others – who were notified last week that they have been suspended without pay for, in the words of the NFL, “conduct detrimental to the NFL.” Hargrove’s penalty was harsher than Fujita’s (three games) and Smith’s (four) because he lied to investigators, according to the NFL.

In the declaration, which Hargrove signed on April 13, Hargrove said that he was called into a meeting with Williams in February 2010, and the conversation turned to the bounty program after Vitt entered the room. Williams said the NFL was investigating the Saints’ bounty program in the wake of the 2009 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings and that some people thought Hargrove had had told Vikings defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy about a 'bounty' being placed on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre because Hargrove and Kennedy were friends.

In his statement, Hargrove says that Williams then said he was going to deny the existence of any bounty system, and that both Williams and Vitt told Hargrove he should deny it as well. Both men told Hargrove that if they all would "stay on the same page, this will blow over."

Hargrove said in the statement that when he met with an NFL security officer in March 2010, he did as he was told by Williams and Vitt and denied any knowledge of a bounty program.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Hargrove had officially appealed his eight-game suspension for his involvement in the bounty scandal.

According to ESPN’s Andrew Brandt, a former Packers executive, Hargrove, Fujita and Smith filed a "Reservation of Rights" to Goodell, meaning they reserve their rights to appeal but don't recognize Goodell's authority to preside over the appeal; thus no appeal hearing.

Hargrove, who spent last season with the Seattle Seahawks, signed a one-year, $825,000 deal with the Packers on March 28 that included no signing bonus.

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