Favre’s texting misadventure helped Hargrove avoid suspension

AP

Most of former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s 22-page ruling focuses on the question of whether and to what extent players should be subject to suspension for pay-for-performance/bounty programs that are administered by coaches.

But free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove’s seven-game suspension ultimately was fueled by allegations that Hargrove lied to investigators in March 2010, when the NFL first started to sniff around the Saints regarding the possibility that a bounty existed on former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the 2010 NFC title game.

So how did Hargrove beat the rap?

For starters, Tagliabue compared the suspension of Hargrove for obstruction of justice, to the $50,000 fine imposed two years ago on Favre himself for lying to the league in connection with the investigation regarding whether he sent inappropriate cell-phone photos to a former Jets employee.

“Although not entirely comparable to the present matter, this illustrates the NFL’s practice of fining, not suspending players, for serious violations of this type,” Tagliabue explains in his official ruling.  “There is no evidence of a record of past suspensions based purely on obstructing a League investigation.  In my forty years of association with the NFL, I am aware of many instances of denials in disciplinary proceedings that proved to be false, but I cannot recall any suspension for such fabrication.”

That’s a very polite way of saying that, in Tagliabue’s opinion, Commissioner Roger Goodell went way too far in suspending Hargrove.

Tagliabue also points to the fact that coaches told Hargrove to lie, and that “it is clear that Hargrove was under tremendous pressure to follow the chain of command in order to keep his job.”  It makes sense, even though Goodell had disregarded the reality that Hargrove was simply saying what he had to say in order to remain employed by the Saints.

Finally, Tagliabue relied on the ambiguity regarding the specific questions Hargrove was asked by invesitgators.  Denying the existence of a pay-for-performance program is different from denying the existence of a bounty on Brett Favre.  “If Hargrove denied only the existence of the alleged bounty on Favre,” Tagliabue writes, “[Hargrove] is no more guilty of conduct detrimental than the numerous Saints’ defensive team members from the 2009-2010 season who have provided sworn statements or testimony to the same effect and who have not been suspended or otherwise disciplined.”

All things considered, it was the right decision.  And it makes the league office look wrong for so zealously pursuing a guy who was doing what he need to do and who may not have even been lying at all — especially since, as Tagliabue noted, no action like this had ever been taken in 40 years of NFL history.

30 responses to “Favre’s texting misadventure helped Hargrove avoid suspension

  1. Definitely no Saints fan, but happy to see Goodell be made to look like such a power hungry dictator that he has appeared to be…I just hope he thinks before he tries to swing his big stick next time…

  2. Reached for comment, Favre texted that he agrees with this ruling. Thankfully, without photo attachements.

  3. Reading the ruling I was surprised there wasn’t any mention of the false allegations the league made regarding the video showing it was Hargrove who said “give me my money”. Of course this was completely false. Also no mention of Mary Jo White and her “unbiased” review of the evidence.

  4. And, there has never been a head coach suspended before. The Patriots were only fined for their violation of league rules, and still allowed to have a competitive season. It’s clear that Tagliabue would not have suspended Sean Payton, even though he can’t come out and admit it. Saints fans did nothing to deserve the punishment Goodell imposed on them. He needs to pay for the mistakes he’s made.

  5. What I don’t get is just because it was never done before, doesn’t mean it can NEVER be done…ever. I mean, what if the next guy lies knowing very well that the most he’s going to get is a fine.

  6. Not sure that Hargrove is really “helped” by avoiding the suspension given that he hasn’t been on a roster since the start of the regular season.

    Seems like his case could have just been thrown out several weeks ago based on his circumstance.

  7. The whole time I was reading this article all I kept thinking about is……… Is that really favre in that pic? Holy crap he had to be on something while playing because after this little time off he now looks 65 years old if that is him!!!! Great pic either way!!!

  8. Correct me if I’m wrong, but, wasn’t Goodell just a Ad/Promotions guy? Was he really qualified in the first place? I like that he wants to tame the players down (and they need it, just look at the weekly police beat for evidence that they need to be reeled in) but he went way too far here..

    Give the owners & NFLPA credit here for cleaning up the mess and bringing Tagliabue back in to do this..

    Give the owners/NFL management a big thumbs down for hiring Goodell and allowing this travesty to happen in the first place..

  9. In his ruling, Tagliabue wrote:

    Under[…]the terms of Article 46, I am not reviewing CommissionerGoodell’s October 9, 2012 findings and conclusions de novo. If the parties had intended such areview, they would have written it into the CBA. Instead, I am giving appropriate deference toCommissioner Goodell’s reasonable findings and am applying the same standard of review tofindings of violation and to findings underlying the level of discipline.
    ____

    I’m not a lawyer, but does this mean that Tagliabue was not required to, and so did not, examine the methods by which Goodell reached his findings?

    The timeline of the announcements and letters in March, and what is being called an “investigation” (a.k.a. he said/she said) on which he based the suspensions seem to be a bone of contention in Fed Court. Is Tags off the hook for looking at that cluster of activity?

  10. The only good thing to come out of the Favre texting situation is the huge distraction it caused for the Vikings who promptly went out and lost that very next game to the Jets. Karma for Childress who sold his soul for a QB.

  11. Wow Tagliabue is using the past history of failing to hold players accountable to high standards as a reason to not allow it now? If that made sense then slavery would be legal today because of grandfathering it in since it once existed in the past. Why evolve our laws and rules in any way?

    Too bad Tagliabue isn’t black, female, or a minority, so no surprise he doesn’t get it. What a crock of a rationale. Past precedent of failures now excuses appropriate measures of the present, good grief.

  12. The coaches and organization already were serving suspensions, so it was easy to leave that be and let the players off with their names having already been dragged through the ringer…reputations tainted by the bounty scandal…

  13. Roger Goodell in my opinion needs a permanent vacation from league leadership. Like any child or young person who over reacts with new found authority is not the adult and type person of wisdom I believe this multi-billion dollar industry needs at the helm going forward.

    Appears to me as if he wants all to know who is the boss and in charge even if can’t prove the person actually did the deed. Some powers rule by fear and intimidation and in a business of physical strength, speed, and power wants to demAnd respect without earning it. From my perspective it’s job search time and create a position for Goodell he can’t do any harm and say the “more time with family” thing. Save face with him and more on. Roger isn’t the man I believe hire a proven guy.

  14. It needed to be addressed severly, if you allow a bounty program to become competetive then you could potentially allow those with big time money i.e Tom Brady and others to pay Olinemen to take out the knees of key D guys like Jared Allen. Eventually we have no great players because everyone is maimed. These are supposed to be “PROFESSIONAL” ball players. Do you really want to employ a hockey goon type of person on your team now? What the Saints did had the potential to change the game more than anything has in the past. Godell had to take a hard stance. The sad part is that these professional men on the Saints still dont see a problem with it. Sorry Drew Brees but you’re wrong. Today was not a victory day for the Saints but rather a loss for integrity and professionalism.

  15. So, do the players Goodell suspended in the Bounty proceeding now get paid for the games they were forced to sit out? Looks like they should IMO.

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