One of the suspended New Orleans Saints players, Anthony Hargrove, is claiming that his coaches Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt told him to “just play dumb” when talking to NFL Commisioner Roger Goddell.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting that in his statement to the NFLPA, Hargrove claims that Williams came to him personally and told him to claim no knowledge of any bounty program when NFL security questioned him in 2010.
From Pro Football Talk:
Williams said he was going to deny the existence of a bounty, and that Hargrove should deny it, too. Per Hargrove, Williams said, “Those motherf-ckers [the NFL] have been trying to get me for years,” and that, if they “stay on the same page, this will blow over.”
Hargrove says he stuck to the story that Williams told him to, and that Williams followed up with him after questioning to make sure that he did.
Hargrove also says Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt played the loyalty card against him, saying he “brought [Hargrove] into the League and brought [Hargrove] to the Saints.”
Florio’s reporting comes on the heels of the suspensions of three current Saints players (Hargrove, Jonathan Vilma, and Will Smith), and one former Saints player (Scott Fujita) for different lengths of time over the course of the 2012 season.
Florio, being a former lawyer, makes a litigious point in his report that Hargrove never claims that he was told to lie, but that he was in fact told what to say. While you and I may view his “playing dumb” as a lie, Florio says that he was never asked to comment on whether or not he believed what he was saying to be true.
Gotta love lawyers.
Either way, its apparent that this New Orleans Saints mess is has no end in sight. Whether or not Hargrove or any other Saints player comes out and admits the existence of a bounty program is inconsequential at this point, given that there is so much smoke now that if there isn’t any fire, there’s certainly something poisonous there.