The NFL's evidence on Anthony Hargrove

As you might know by now, the NFL Players Association has posted all of the evidence its received from the NFL regarding the New Orleans Saints bounty case. You can download it in two parts from the NFLPA web site, but you should be warned there are profanities throughout.

I scrolled thorough the files with an NFC North focus, searching for references to Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. From our perspective, the question is not whether the league has evidence of a Saints bounty program. For us, it's important to note what, if anything, it has on Hargrove, who received the second-longest suspension (eight games) among the four players who were disciplined.

There are a lot of documents and exhibits, and so anyone interested can feel free to double-check for me. But I found four substantive mentions of Hargrove, and none of them directly suggested he participated in a bounty or that he received any money as a result of one.

A group of 12 NFL reporters, including ESPN's Adam Schefter, received additional documentation late Monday from league officials. If anything related to Hargrove emerges from that meeting, we'll of course acknowledge it. For now, here is what the NFL has documented on him:

  • Two occasions where Hargrove owed "game dues" into an unspecified kitty or pot. One was $400 for a game against the Miami Dolphins because of "two loafs" and "1 ME," or Mental Error. Another was $200 due from a game against the Atlanta Falcons for unspecified reasons.

  • In a chart entitled "Kill the Head Totals" for the 2010, Hargrove ranks 11th on the team with 20. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known to have used the phrase: "Kill the head, and the body will die." Does the chart refer to illegal hits to opponents' heads? It's hard to imagine the Saints would be dumb enough document that. Even if they did, the figures would far outpace the number of personal fouls the Saints received that season. Were they legal "bone-jarring" hits? Nothing is specified, but I acknowledge your imagination will take you wherever it wants. This could be important information, but without context, it's hard to consider it a smoking gun.

  • A second chart was titled "2010 Whacks and Missed Whack Totals." Hargrove was listed with zero. Again, there is no definition to explain what a "Whack" is in this context, but Hargrove had none, anyway.

So was Hargrove suspended for having 20 "Kill the Head" hits and paying money into an undefined kitty? If that's the case, plenty of other Saints players got off easy.

Hargrove has admitted that he took the instruction of Saints coaches to "play dumb" during a 2010 interview with the NFL. Based on the evidence contained in the initial document dump, you wonder if a large portion (or all) of is suspension was based on that admission.

In a statement Sunday, agent Phil Williams asked NFL officials: "[W]hy did you not consider the remarkably difficult situation that Anthony was put in by his coaches, who to him were the NFL? What would you have done if you had been back in the NFL for less than a year, having served a year-long suspension, with the threat of your career ending (again) hanging over your head? Would you have disobeyed your employer?"

I'll let you be the judge there. Again, if the NFL turned over additional evidence during its afternoon meeting with reporters, I'll pass it along.