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Hargrove emerges as key figure in bounty probe

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With Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Saints defensive end Will Smith claiming that they had no involvement in any type of bounty program, former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove becomes a key figure in the looming appeal process.

Originally interviewed by NFL Security when the league first investigated the claims of a bounty against Brett Favre in 2010, Hargrove denied the allegations.  In early March, Hargrove reiterated, in somewhat vague terms, his position that he had no involvement in a bounty system.

“I have made many mistakes in my life and have paid dearly for some of them, and the late hit and the comments were both mistakes, in my opinion,” Hargrove said, in reference to hitting Favre low and exclaiming “Favre is out of the game!  Favre is done!  Favre is done!” thereafter.  “But players all over the league do the same thing every Sunday, make late hits and say stupid things.  But I can say with absolute certainty that neither the late hit nor the comment have anything whatsoever to do with the issue being so hotly discussed in the media.”

On Wednesday, the NFL’s announcement of the various player suspensions mentioned that Hargrove has signed a “declaration” (it’s like an affidavit, but it’s not signed in the presence of a notary) in which he “established not only the existence of the program with the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it,” and that he “told at least one player on another team that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of a large bounty.”

On Thursday, lawyer Mary Jo White described generally the contents of Hargrove’s declaration.  “In it, he acknowledges the nature of the program and his participation in it,” White said.  “And, which was 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.”

White said Hargrove identified the person who told him to lie, but White declined to reveal the information.

And that highlights the primary disconnect with this process.  The NFL wants the media and, in turn, the public to have confidence in the investigation, but the NFL wants the media and, in turn, the public to simply take the NFL at its word.  At some point, there must be full disclosure of all relevant facts, if the NFL wants the media and, in turn, the public to approve the process.

This includes disclosing the full Hargrove declaration, along with all other evidence that proves the players who have been suspended did what they are accused of doing.  Given that the players who have been suspended are challenging their punishments and, at least as to Vilma and Smith, professing their innocence, far more is needed than mere summaries or conclusions.

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69 Responses to “Hargrove emerges as key figure in bounty probe”
  1. thebigcaptain2011 says: May 3, 2012 4:13 PM

    He also is a key figure in the future of the LA FOOTBALL LAKERS. Thumbs down, please.

  2. lolb23 says: May 3, 2012 4:14 PM

    Can someone please draw a picture for Saints fans so they can join in on all of this.

  3. ubb44 says: May 3, 2012 4:14 PM

    Brees is not happy with this explanation.

  4. epmckenna says: May 3, 2012 4:16 PM

    I’m surprised he still got 8 games if he signed a declaration and provided crucial evidence to it. The NFL should’ve let him off easier, maybe 4 or 6 games. Especially if Will Smith only got 4 games and he’s still denying it.

  5. whatnojets says: May 3, 2012 4:17 PM

    Mr. Florio, With all due respect, what law school did you attend?

  6. cowboyhater says: May 3, 2012 4:17 PM

    Hotly discussed!! Get off this bounty crap, and report real football news. I’m so finished this nonsense. We got it NFL!! No more bounties. Those who were involved have been punished. Let it go, and move on.

  7. waitingguilty says: May 3, 2012 4:17 PM

    By “the issues being so hotly discussed in the media” Anthony must have meant the presidential election, or the economy…

    Because any fool knows his actions had EVERYTHING to do with bountygate.

  8. mazenblue says: May 3, 2012 4:18 PM

    TBH, wouldn’t this be more interesting if it was a team like the Browns or some other bottom feeder. Would it matter? Of course it does, but seriously, would it matter?

  9. binkystevens says: May 3, 2012 4:20 PM

    I find it amazing that Hargrove is getting the 2nd harshest penalty (among players), when in practice he really was like a whistle blower himself, being the only player to admit that it existed and admit that he was told to lie about it. Don’t get me wrong, I think he deserves a penalty, but if there were 40+ players on the defense during the time this was going on, it’s odd that the only one willing to cooperate with the NFL gets slapped with the 2nd harshest penalty. I get that he didn’t cooperate at first, but you get my point–did no other players actually lie to the NFL or disrupt the judicial process at the time?

  10. robf2010 says: May 3, 2012 4:20 PM

    So why exactly is a known liar’s “declaration” worth anything?

  11. cwmorga says: May 3, 2012 4:20 PM

    In response to the conference call the NFL organized Thursday morning with Mary Jo White, a New York litigator and former federal prosecutor, the players’ union released a statement from its outside counsel, Richard Smith. Smith is also a former prosecutor.
    “I was at the meeting with the NFL’s lead investigators in March. She was
    not there. Anyone, especially former prosecutors like both of us, know
    that what the league provided could never be called ‘substantial evidence’
    of player participation in a pay-to-injure program. Worse yet, Mary Jo
    provided nothing new or compelling today beyond another press briefing. My
    guess is that a veteran FBI agent like Joe Hummel would agree as well.”

    Stay tuned!

  12. jealst says: May 3, 2012 4:20 PM

    Can. We. Move. On. Already. Geez!

  13. DCBlueStar says: May 3, 2012 4:21 PM

    The Bucs just did a very very honorable thing down there in Tampa, and Junior Seau is sorely missed… and all we can talk about is Brees, Bouties and the Big Bad Saints… Give it a rest… How about updating us on the Cap Penalty Grievance???

  14. mp42245 says: May 3, 2012 4:21 PM

    How many lawyers did Godell have to go thru to find his lackey?

  15. grogantomorgan says: May 3, 2012 4:22 PM

    If the NFL can provide that disclosure and still keep the whistleblowers anonomous then yes they should.

  16. jakek2 says: May 3, 2012 4:24 PM

    Precisely why that jagoff Goodell should not be given free reign to impose such suspensions (which result in losses of millions of dollars and prime years of the player).

    Not two days go by and the minor participant in bounty gate openly admits that he was one of the biggest participants. Yet, Goodell spends him for less than half of what Vilma got.

    This process MUST CHANGE!

  17. dcalisto1 says: May 3, 2012 4:25 PM

    The Saints are being served their just desserts. Appeal all you want because it is within your rights. Will not change the outcome.

    My problem with all of this is still the referees blowing the calls to begin with. Not implying they were “in on it” as others have on this board. If the calls (unnecessary roughness)were made on the field rather than fines a few days later, no doubt in my mind the Vikes go on to win that game and no bounty system is ever uncovered to the degree it is now.

  18. whatnojets says: May 3, 2012 4:26 PM

    “that he was told to lie about it”-certainly NOT another player! So….how was it? a coach, a coordinator or management???

  19. matthewderbes says: May 3, 2012 4:27 PM

    I guess someone should have recorded those games huh.

    And if they have all of this evidence, why don’t they release it? What’s the harm?

  20. 13xworldchamps says: May 3, 2012 4:27 PM

    Dump this guy Ted, he’s not worth the bagage

  21. thetooloftools says: May 3, 2012 4:28 PM

    At the end of the day, I don’t care about “due process”.
    The commish has every right to slap these guys down. INJURY BOUNTIES are off the chain WRONG ! I don’t care if they have bounties for sacks or big hits… but to intentionally injure someone and then get paid is unjustifiable.
    Go Commish. Drop the hammer as needed.

  22. vikingamericann says: May 3, 2012 4:28 PM

    Then NFL case is falling a part. The claimed 50 thousand pages of evidence, then claim the had18 thousand. What happened to the other 32000 pages? Guess it wasn’t all that compelling. Then there was the claim of 22 to 27 players would be suspended. Yet only 4 were. So it would seems that over 80 percent of their claim against players they could not backup. Why should we trust the NFL when it’s already be established that they lied about the evidence and player suspensions?

  23. porterhouse12 says: May 3, 2012 4:30 PM

    If Loomis, Payton, Williams have admitted it existed and took responsibility, can common sense dictate execution was on the player level and money was paid/received.

    I want more evidence, but I also should be allowed to deduce that the program existed and players still think a denial based on a hoped lack of proof can get them out of trouble.

    This is not a criminal proceeding, but it’s not overly surprising that’s how the players are accustomed to behaving.

    So please, don’t deny it existed and just be a good role model.

  24. dannyabramowitz says: May 3, 2012 4:32 PM

    Let me pose a hypothetical:

    Suppose Goodell announces tomorrow that he has completed an investigation and has determined that 50 NFL players have broken the law by speeding. He is suspending the players for one year.

    None of the players has ever received a speeding ticket. The players want to see the evidence that they’ve been speeding, what to know who says they’ve been speeding. Goodell responds that you should trust me I have the evidence and it’s been reviewed by an “independent” attorney who says the evidence is “quite strong.”

    The players decide to appeal, but are told that Goodell will hear the appeal and does not have to present his alleged evidence at the appeal.

    Does anyone see the problem with this? This is what Goodell is trying to get away with here.

    Goodell needs to turn over the evidence or else this whole thing is a sham.

  25. dceaglesfan says: May 3, 2012 4:32 PM

    Mike,

    You make an unwarranted (incorrect?) assumption when you say “if the NFL wants the media and, in turn, the public to approve the process” that the media’s approval is needed for the public’s approval.

    That points to the overinflated value the media places on itself. If you read the commentary on the other “Bountygate” articles you’ll see that the public already approves the process and is ready to move on. The media (and Saint’s fans) are the ones that have issue with the process…not the fans.

  26. inmemryof03 says: May 3, 2012 4:37 PM

    I just honestly think that after the years of dissapointment from players that have been suspended for fractions they did off of the field and allowed to come back and rediem themselves, this will be another case of second chance for everyone envolved. I do not condone what has gone on with the bounty crap, but at the end of the day if Roger keeps to being consistant all parties involved will be allowed back in the league by the start of next season. So why do we really care…..Lets get to the season, and give the fans what they want…Its football stop the damn drama. It happened the ramifications have been issued. Everyone gets a second chance. So be it 4 games or 16 games we will see them all back.

  27. lolb23 says: May 3, 2012 4:38 PM

    Hurricane Goodell

  28. whatnojets says: May 3, 2012 4:38 PM

    DCBlueStar says:
    May 3, 2012 4:21 PM
    The Bucs just did a very very honorable thing down there in Tampa, and Junior Seau is sorely missed… and all we can talk about is Brees, Bouties and the Big Bad Saints… Give it a rest… How about updating us on the Cap Penalty Grievance???

    ——————————————–

    Yeah, I agree! How about an update on Tim Tebow and Holy Grail!!!???

  29. ilovefoolsball says: May 3, 2012 4:39 PM

    The NFL can only play this “TRUST US” game so long. They might get away with it with this fiasco, but the NFL isn’t going away and there will be other situations in the future where they show this same type of “TRUST US” mentality.
    As soon as they pull this against another team you’ll see all the hatred for the Saints being redirected at GODdell and the same people who are griping about the Saints being cheaters and scum will be saying “hey man that’s not fair! It was cool when you were punishing the Saints without evidence but this is my team man, back off man, you’re not fair man!”

  30. notdemfalcons says: May 3, 2012 4:40 PM

    Funny, but no one has uncovered the REAL whistleblower in all this. Brett Favre was looking for a way back into the news, clearly. After all, he DID post pictures of his bruises did he not?

  31. jrsmits says: May 3, 2012 4:41 PM

    And that highlights the primary disconnect with this process. The NFL wants the media and, in turn, the public to have confidence in the investigation, but the NFL wants the media and, in turn, the public to simply take the NFL at its word. At some point, there must be full disclosure of all relevant facts, if the NFL wants the media and, in turn, the public to approve the process.

    This includes disclosing the full Hargrove declaration, along with all other evidence that proves the players who have been suspended did what they are accused of doing. Given that the players who have been suspended are challenging their punishments and, at least as to Vilma and Smith, professing their innocence, far more is needed than mere summaries or conclusions.
    ——————————————————–

    This is not a court of law!!
    This is a private company dishing out punishments to EMPLOYEES that broke the rules!!
    They do not have the right to face their accusers or see any evidence until or if the case goes to court.

  32. askbri says: May 3, 2012 4:43 PM

    The entire city of New Orleans can’t believe it!

    Drew Brees wants an explanation.

    Darren Sharper wants more radio and TV time.

    Sean Payton cringes everytime he sees a new headline about this and then pops another Vicodin.

    Tom Benson drinks another scotch and does what he does… drinking another scotch.

    Man, I would hate to be a Saints fan right now!

  33. taintedsaints2009 says: May 3, 2012 4:43 PM

    i have no idea why the packers signed this guy. i doubt they keep him after drafting 2 dt’s last week.

  34. profootballwalk says: May 3, 2012 4:43 PM

    Hey Mary Jo – I loved Poke Salad Annie!

  35. contra74 says: May 3, 2012 4:48 PM

    Way to pick this guy up Ted.

  36. mornelithe says: May 3, 2012 4:48 PM

    The question becomes whose right do you protect then? We’re all demanding to see every bit of information, however, the NFL is obligated to protect the identities of the original Whistle blower(s). In this particular case, you cannot have it both ways.

    I understand that some emotions are flaring here, but the bottom line is there are strict guidelines and laws protecting the whistle blow status, to turn a blind eye to that opens the NFL to further lawsuits, in addition to the ones they’re trying to curtail here (concussions).

    I personally have no answer, I’m not really going to advocate that we infringe upon the rights of anyone…however, I do feel that the whistle blowers deserve more protection than those who are guilty of league infractions. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decisions on this.

  37. pftisahalftruth says: May 3, 2012 4:52 PM

    the fact that you’d get a million hits on your website if/when those items are disclosed surely has nothing to do with your desire?!

    although I don’t disagree that all info should be released.

  38. ickky says: May 3, 2012 4:58 PM

    The NEw Orleans Saints*

  39. expertop says: May 3, 2012 5:01 PM

    So, you think the NFL should just make “all relevant facts” about the investigation public – because of some perceived “disconnect”? You sound like a teenager whining about the Constitution after his parents go through his room.

    How the NFL investigates misconduct, determines sanctions, addresses grievances and releases information are all governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFLPA, Mike. Not what comes off the top of your head.

  40. youallrfools says: May 3, 2012 5:10 PM

    @ Vikingamericann – Not sure if you were aware of this, but you’re referring to rumors propogated by sports media (the arm pit of news broadcasting, if you can call it news). Nothing came out until yesterday. Another 7 out of 10’er.

  41. prrebel says: May 3, 2012 5:24 PM

    He was probably going to be suspended the whole season and was told we’ll give you 8 games if you sign a “declaration”.

  42. lolb23 says: May 3, 2012 5:26 PM

    vikingamericann says: May 3, 2012 4:28 PM

    Then NFL case is falling a part.
    _______________________________

    Don’t you have a /lawn cuttingsnow removal business to run? Get those K1’s ready bro!

  43. paulitik74 says: May 3, 2012 5:36 PM

    I think the fact that only 4 were suspended is telling. This isn’t a case of one snitch, this is a case of a dozen or more snitches selling out Jonathan Vilma. The NFL had Hargrove on tape. I think they threatened him with a game suspension until he broke. It got up to 8.

    If Vilma, Hargrove, and Smith came clean and were honest, I don’t think the suspensions would be this harsh. Vilma’s current defiance will only guarantee he won’t take a snap in the NFL anytime soon.

    If the NFL is withholding evidence, it’s only to prevent the swarm of trial lawyers waiting on it’s release from getting their hands on it.

  44. bearsandjazz says: May 3, 2012 5:39 PM

    Dannybramowitz—your ridiculous scenario makes no sense. I’m sure you spent an hour thinking of that but come on. The hypothetical scenario you just blabbed about is not even close to whats going on with the bounty program. There is a big difference between laws and collectively bargained rules. Just another idiot who refuses to look at the basic facts. Anyone not blinded by their own idiocy knows the saints coaches and players engaged in activities not allowed by NFL Rules. Goodell didn’t just pull all of the air, why would he want negative light on Americas most popular sport. How does that benefit him or the NFL. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. Enforce rules and punish those who break them.

  45. chiefsfan88 says: May 3, 2012 5:43 PM

    For those of you who keep saying they are sick of hearing and reading about the bountys I found this new thing that seems to work really well if you don’t want to hear or read about it skip past the article its going to keep being brought up I dont need to see you complaining about no one forces you to use the website or make you watch tv

  46. whodat2 says: May 3, 2012 5:55 PM

    I am pretty sure this horse is dead now….nothing new will be uncovered unless an article is written about a 50,000 page report about the bounty program resulting in 4…repeat 4 players.

  47. flannlv says: May 3, 2012 5:59 PM

    The NFL doesn’t have to give the media or the public any information. It should provide that information to the players and their attorneys if they really expect the players to challenge the suspensions. How else are the players going to challenge the suspensions? They can’t.

  48. vikingamericann says: May 3, 2012 6:02 PM

    notdemfalcons | May 3, 2012, 4:40 PM EDT
    Funny, but no one has uncovered the REAL whistleblower in all this. Brett Favre was looking for a way back into the news, clearly. After all, he DID post pictures of his bruises did he not?

    Too bad he did not stop at sending pics of bruises for attention.

  49. vikingamericann says: May 3, 2012 6:06 PM

    lolb23 | May 3, 2012, 5:26 PM EDT

    Don’t you have a lemonade stand near the MOA? Some free business advice, be Minnesota Nice to your customers. Peasant.

  50. tangysizzl says: May 3, 2012 6:10 PM

    From what I understand, most of the evidence of the bounty program comes from the mouth of Greg Williams and I guess Tony Hargrove. Whoever blew the whistle initially gave the NFL the ammo to get those two men to confess to their involment in the program.

    I also remember hearing that Williams may have in fact kept records of the payments made to the players and what the payments were for.

    If true, thats really all the evidence they would need to justify all these suspensions.

  51. amaf21 says: May 3, 2012 6:15 PM

    You too need to shut your blabber mouth. If I was The Commish I would’ve hammered you with a one year suspension at least. Shut up and be thankful your suspension was so short. I used to think Albert Haynesworth was the biggest turd in the NFL punch bowl. These Saints have proved me wrong.

  52. vikingamericann says: May 3, 2012 6:16 PM

    There are always three sides to the truth. Your side, my side, and what really happened. The NFL needs to prove their case to the players. If they lack evidence or are covering up a bigger issue, the players will and should fight. This helps us all, either we learn the NFL secrets, and improve the safety of the game, not just for pros, but for the amateurs too. Or the players serve as a role model of what not to do. Either way force the NFLs hand.

  53. Shawn says: May 3, 2012 6:17 PM

    The people involved say then NFL doesn’t have proof, sounds pretty juvenile. They obviously do and need to stop lying to Goodell because that will only make things worse.

  54. lbrad413 says: May 3, 2012 6:18 PM

    All I’m saying is when you take almost 2 million dollars out of a man’s pocket by suspending him for a year (vilma).. I think he has the right to see the “evidence” and “50,000” pages of documents.. If it were you in that position wouldn’t you want the same?

  55. vikingamericann says: May 3, 2012 6:26 PM

    youallrfools | May 3, 2012, 5:10 PM EDT
    @ Vikingamericann – Not sure if you were aware of this, but you’re referring to rumors propogated by sports media (the arm pit of news broadcasting, if you can call it news). Nothing came out until yesterday. Another 7 out of 10′

    I’m aware of the quality cough cough of the news. If the sports news is the arm pit . National news media is where you stick the thermometer to check the worlds temperature. No one reports news anymore they forecast news and tell you what to think. I choose to question everything instead.

  56. gordocb says: May 3, 2012 6:56 PM

    I know it’s apples to oranges but anyone proclaiming that he should get some kind of a less harsh penalty because he signed a “declaration of guilt” is ridiculous. If I commit murder but I admit to it does that get me a lesser sentence? No. The punishment should be whatever the league feels is necessary regardless of his admission of guilt. We all know this goes on in the NFL, but lying to investigators and continuing to offer bounty’s after you know the league is investigating is just plain stupid. Take your punishment, serve your suspension and get on with your career. Quit your crying and deal with it.

  57. gingerkid2000 says: May 3, 2012 6:57 PM

    I understand wanting full disclosure of the evidence, but how do you go about that and protect the so-called whistleblowers? And if there is no evidence, why would Williams admit to it and apologize? Why would the NFL go to extensive lengths to punish all these guys if there wasn’t some evidence of it? Someone here reminded us that this is not a court of law. It’s a corporation that has rules & regulations that it’s employees must adhere to if they want to work for it. My company has rules and regulations that I must adhere to or I get fired. The Constitution protects you from the government infringing on your rights. It does not protect you from disobeying a company’s “code of conduct” on or off the job. And playing football within the rules is their job. If the NFL wants to release all this evidence they must be able to protect the names of those who cooperated with the investigation. But even then I don’t think that any amount of evidence released by the NFL will satisfy the haters or deniers.

    The media is only interested in the number of TV viewers or website hits. Public perception of the NFL is the least of their worries. If it was, they’d do a better job of researching their topics before releasing them to the public that they say they are so concerned about informing.

  58. stevenfbrackett says: May 3, 2012 7:40 PM

    Have the Packers cut him yet? Because I would be very surprised if they didn’t soon.

  59. westclaims says: May 3, 2012 7:47 PM

    Another wannabe attorney post

  60. neauxgeaux44 says: May 3, 2012 7:52 PM

    There is no bigger loser poster than lolb23….must be terrible to be a jealous saints hater living in your mom’s basement and working at Walmart….

  61. marcinhouston says: May 3, 2012 7:53 PM

    A disgruntled ex-employee with a documented history of drug abuse. What a great witness to prove everything.

  62. ajpurp says: May 3, 2012 8:16 PM

    Thank you Jrsmits, I have been saying that all along. When does a private company ever have to disclose to its consumers the evidence against, say someone who chooses to embezzle money from it, to the public BEFORE it goes to court?!?! NEVER. We find out little bits and pieces just like here, and finally get the majority of the issue when the case goes to court. Hell even shareholders of class B stock don’t have to be informed of any evidence and sometimes even stakeholders in a company, outside the board of directors, don’t get the evidence against the person. The idea that the media OR the public have a right to know the evidence before there is even a grievance, appeal or lawsuit file on behalf of the player is absolutely absurd. The law simply does not work that way, and while public relations wise, it might be in their interest, what private company would give away it’s case, evidence or anything before a likely or even remotely possible lawsuit? Oh yeah, that’s right. None! Any lawyer worth half a grain of salt knows this, and apparently so does a second year law student. Hell a first year law student would know this.

  63. ajpurp says: May 3, 2012 8:28 PM

    And people what are you talking about? The players get the information when they file an appeal and it is not only heard by Goodell but they can take it to an “independent” arbitrator. The players can see the evidence once they file a formal complaint just like any company, but cannot see the entire investigation launched against them, just like any company, because that includes thousands of man hours and lawyer work product doctrine protects most of it. They get that evidence when they file suit against the company in a court of law, like when a corporation fires you, you can file a grievance with the EEOP and then they approve it you can take it to a court of law, but when the employee is sitting in his managers office and he’s telling him he’s fired does that manager ever hand over to that employee the entire investigative case against him? No, double F-in no. Come on, seriously. Theyll get the evidence at some point when they appeal and we will if it’s taken to a court of law or when the corporation’s public relations decides they’re good and ready

  64. tweeter75 says: May 3, 2012 8:29 PM

    A two year investigation and these degenerates still won’t shut up and accept some responsibility. Do they think everyone else is a stupid as they are?

  65. theodorethompson says: May 3, 2012 8:46 PM

    Hargrove…”but it was coach Williams who ordered the code Red! We did what we were ordered to do! We did nothing wrong!”

  66. sdisme says: May 3, 2012 9:12 PM

    I can now give you a good idea of why Joe Hummel resigned.

    Hargrove was probably offered a fairly reduced penalty for cooperating. The NFL likely had nothing on other players and ended up giving Hargrove the 2nd hardest punishment because he made the mistake of writing a statement.

    That makes the work of NFL investigators next to impossible next time they have to investigate something.

  67. 69allday says: May 4, 2012 1:04 AM

    Glad to hear he is out of our hair for half a season

  68. mark0226 says: May 4, 2012 3:49 AM

    Let me guess, the NFL lawyers wrote the declaration?

  69. nawlinslady1970 says: May 7, 2012 5:14 PM

    Why is this so hard for people to understand? Lawyers coach witnesses and people to be deposed all the time. They want to make sure that they say only what needs to be said and not offer any other information that can be taken out of context. That doesn’t mean the lawyer is telling them to lie. Hargrove never says there’s a “bounty” program, he just says that Williams coached him on what to say. It was the NFL that says that he “established not only the existence of the program with the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it,”. That’s a big leap for the NFL to make from what was really said.

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