Ex-Saint Anthony Hargrove says it's not his voice in clip used by NFL as bounty evidence
Anthony Hargrove (69) of the New Orleans Saints addresses his teammates prior to playing against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. / Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Former New Orleans defensive end Anthony Hargrove says it's not his voice saying "Give me the money" in a video used by the NFL as evidence in its investigation of the Saints' bounty program.
A day after Hargrove and three of his ex-teammates made appeals of their suspensions at NFL headquarters, he returned to the sidewalk outside the league offices Tuesday for an informal news conference. As curious passers-by huddled around, Hargrove read a 13-minute statement, making references to Bill Clinton and the Mona Lisa and often sounding like a colorful defense attorney giving a closing argument.
"I've never offered nor received money to intentionally hurt a player," Hargrove said.
On Monday, the NFL showed reporters a clip from the 2010 NFC championship game in which Hargrove purportedly made the "money" comment about injuring then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. Hargrove insisted it was someone else uttering those words, though he said he didn't know who.
Hargrove was flagged and subsequently fined $5,000 for a flagrant hit on Favre, who returned to the game.
"This happens," Hargrove said, looking into the TV cameras. "Brett, I'm truly sorry."
Hargrove, now with Green Bay, has been suspended for eight games.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said: "We stand by the findings of our investigation."
On Monday, Hargrove, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Jonathan Vilma attended appeals hearings with Commissioner Roger Goodell. After the sessions, the NFL presented the same evidence it showed the players to reporters. The Hargrove clip was part of that.
An NFL investigation found that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran a system from 2009 through last season under which New Orleans players received cash bonuses for hits that knocked specific opponents out of games. Williams has been suspended indefinitely and other Saints coaches also have been punished.
Wearing a backward baseball cap and a white T-shirt, Hargrove called NFL officials "master politicians," making an analogy to Clinton's use of semantics when he said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." And just as the Mona Lisa does not appear to smiling unless you look close enough, Hargrove declared, the league's evidence does not hold up to closer scrutiny.
Hargrove, though, offered few specifics to back up his vivid imagery.
"I have felt like the target of a sophisticated mugging," he said.
CBSSports.com's Jason LaCanfora obtained a copy of the statement Hargrove was to give regarding the NFL's bounty evidence. Below is an excerpt of that statement:
I have sat back over the past few months and watched as the NFL has spent countless hours painting a picture that has left a lot of people convinced that myself and three other players deserve to be punished, not to mention the coaching staff and Mr. Loomis. I have asked myself a million times: why? Why on earth are they trying to make a mountain out of a molehill? I do not have an absolute answer, but I'm guessing it has something to do with image, power, and money.
The words they have used over the months to capture your hearts and minds have been many, practiced, and calculated. But that does not make them true. It just makes them good at what they do. They are, in my opinion, master politicians. Bill Clinton once said, "I did not have sex with that woman."
Semantics. Politicians are good at it.
There is no way I can reveal to you today the depth of their imagination and determination in painting this picture for you, the public, adroitly using the media as their tools of art. But I will dabble a little. And stay with me, because even though they have somberly made it clear that "The Mona Lisa" is not smiling, if we move in closer we notice that ... just maybe she is.
First of all, I watched in shock as they took my declaration a couple of months ago and made it into something it was not. It left from me as a private explanation of certain specific events and, voila, came out as a confession of crimes. Even I had to blink my eyes real hard to see how they did that one. Do you know they never even asked me what I meant? Just assumed I wanted to confess, I guess.
Or in this case, maybe just lies. They publicly said that I said things that I did not say. Is that not lying? Isn't it? Go back and read for yourselves without assuming that it says what they have made you think, and then re-read their synopsis. Please try to have an open mind.
They also said that I declined to be interviewed a few weeks back. Again, untrue. I know it sounds dubious to the public when they hear that I declined to visit with Mr. Goodell, and that was their intent, I'm guessing. But they were the first to decline. After that, I, too, became dubious.
Yesterday I heard that they have a witness who saw me tell Joe Vitt that I lied? Who is this mystery witness? You may come forward. I won't bite. The truth is that I feel certain I know who this supposed witness is, and if you knew you would understand why this is all so shady. The problem is, since I am only 99% sure who this supposed witness is, I will keep it to myself, because that is what honesty and integrity demand... absolute certainty. And even then, why intentionally drag that person's name through the mud, as the NFL has done mine?
But it did not happen as they say!
They say, and I quote, "the circumstances strongly suggest that you told at least one player on another club about the program, and confirmed that Brett Favre was the target of a bounty." I did no such thing. Do I think someone told them I did? Probably. And I believe it was probably the same mystery witness. But it ... did ... not ... happen! There is no way they have absolute proof, because it does not exist. I would stake my career on it.
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