MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: NFL lawyer Jeff Pash speaks to memebers of the media after leaving court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Anthony Hargrove gave a public statement in New York this week to inform everyone that the voice on the audio tape of a man who is allegedly Hargrove saying 'Bobby, pay me my money' is not actually him. He claimed that this means that the NFL is either being untruthful or made a massive mistake in their decision to suspend him as part of the New Orleans Saints bounty program investigation.
You will not be surprised to learn that NFL Executive Vice President of Labor and General Counsel Jeff Pash disagrees with Hargrove's assessment of the situation. In an interview with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, when asked about Hargrove's suspension and the audio tape, he gave the following response.
I suppose you could watch anything enough times and come up with different conclusions, but we didn't discipline Anthony Hargrove for taking any money in the context of this program. What that video tape rather clearly demonstrates is two things: one, there was a program and it corroborates rather clearly that there was a program where a player could be rewarded for making a play that resulted in an injury to an opponent - you were basically making that point during the break; second, it demonstrates Mr. Hargrove's awareness of the program and his understanding that it existed, and it demonstrates that his statements to our investigators in early 2010 denying the program and saying there was nothing like that in existence were false. That is the basis on which the commissioner imposed discipline on Mr. Hargrove.
This is certainly reasonable, that Hargrove was suspended for lying about the existence of the program when he was asked about it. However, I personally feel that if there is no proof that Hargrove participated in posting or collecting bounties, and he was told to deny the program by his coaches, that an eight-game suspension is extremely harsh. He's ultimately responsible for lying to the NFL and should be suspended, but there's no reason to make an example out of a guy when we don't know if he was ever an active participant in the program.