Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Anthony Hargrove Declaration

On April 13, 2012, Anthony Hargrove, former New Orleans Saint defensive end, signed a sworn document informing the NFL that two New Orleans coaches, Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt, told him to deny that there ever was a "bounty" program to injure opposing players, and that he should "play dumb" when interviewed by the NFL.

Hargrove does not expressly say in the Declaration that such a bounty program existed, but he does strongly imply it. Hargrove also indicates that after his meeting with Coach Williams he realized that he might be being bribed:
When I arrived in his office, Coach Williams was working on a depth chart, and he said to me, “I’ve got you plugged in at left end, Tony.”  Coach Williams knew that defensive end was my preferred position.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that the presentation Coach Williams gave me regarding my opportunity to start at defensive end might have had something to do with what he was about to tell me to do.  In fact, later, after I had re-signed with New Orleans and had concluded my meeting with NFL security in the manner Coach Williams had instructed me, I was never given the opportunity to compete for the starting defensive end job.
Hargrove's Declaration may be accessed here. If the bounty program existed, this document is evidence that the Saints' coaches engaged in a cover-up. And, as usual, the cover-up is worse that the underlying offense. The bounty program, if it existed, violated one of the fundamental rules of the NFL and endangered the health and the careers of opposing players. The cover-up, on the other hand, makes it impossible to detect and address wrongdoing in the sport. Where money and fame are at stake people are tempted to take shortcuts to victory. If they repent and make restitution these acts may be forgiven. But if they suborned false witness to hide their misdeeds it is unlikely the institution will ever take them back.

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