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Packers' Hargrove suspended for eight games

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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Just as he did with the New Orleans Saints coaches and management, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came down hard on the players involved in the bounty system. It will impact the Green Bay Packers, who signed former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove this offseason. Hargrove was one of four players suspended for their roles in the Saints' "pay-for-performance/bounty program," the league announced this morning. Hargrove was suspended for eight games -- half of the regular season -- for his role. The league said that Hargrove "actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints. Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it. The evidence showed that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of a large bounty during the NFC Championship Game in January of 2010. Hargrove also actively obstructed the league’s 2010 investigation into the program by being untruthful to investigators." Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was hit the hardest, receiving a one-year suspension. Saints defensive end Will Smith was suspended for four games, and linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, was suspended three games. All suspensions are without pay. The suspended players, except for Vilma, may participate in the offseason program, training camp and preseason games. Their suspensions begin Week 1 of the regular season. “In assessing player discipline, I focused on players who were in leadership positions at the Saints; contributed a particularly large sum of money toward the program; specifically contributed to a bounty on an opposing player; demonstrated a clear intent to participate in a program that potentially injured opposing players; sought rewards for doing so; and/or obstructed the 2010 investigation," Goodell said in a statement. Discipline for the Saints coaches and management was announced March 21. The Saints were fined $500,000 and forfeited two second-round draft choices (one in 2012 and one in 2013). In addition, suspensions without pay were issued to former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (indefinitely), head coach Sean Payton (2012 NFL season), general manager Mickey Loomis (first eight regular-season games of 2012), and assistant head coach Joe Vitt (first six regular-season games of 2012). The Packers don't have a lot invested in Hargrove, who was expected to bolster their pass rush. They didn't give him a signing bonus or any guaranteed money as part of the one-year, $825,000. If they wanted, they could release him without taking any salary-cap hit. He's the second Packers' player to be suspended this offseason. Mike Neal was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The players can appeal the suspension, and there has been indications that the NFL Players Association will use legal tactics to fight the suspensions.  

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