Agent: NFL's Bounty Probe about Semantics

By Martel, Brett | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), June 18, 2012 | Go to article overview

Agent: NFL's Bounty Probe about Semantics


Martel, Brett, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


NEW ORLEANS - The agent for suspended defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove says the NFL has used semantics, but not hard evidence, as the basis for punishing current and former Saints players in its bounty investigation.

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Sunday, on the eve of sanctioned players' appeal hearing, agent Phil Williams asked dozens of questions of the NFL, including whether league investigators made Hargrove a central figure in the bounty probe because his past drug suspensions made him an "easy target."

Williams also asked why the NFL released evidence strategically rather than sharing as much information as possible in a matter that has harmed players' reputations, and why the league made examples out of a select few players when many players around the league have taken part in performance pools.

"If these men have committed such grievous crimes that you have determined that their careers should be in danger and ... their names sullied, why be so secretive about the 'evidence' that you use to condemn them?" Williams' statement said. "Do you actually have any concrete evidence that any player from another team was injured as a result of a "bounty" and that a player from the Saints was therefore paid accordingly? ... Is it possible that the overwhelming majority of this pressing dilemma is about semantics?"

Hargrove, now with Green Bay, has been suspended eight games. Saints linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Vilma was suspended the whole season, while Saints defensive end Will Smith was suspended four games and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, was suspended three games.

All four players have appeal hearings scheduled before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell today. …

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