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Hargrove appeals, with a twist (updated)

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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It's no surprise that Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove -- and the other three players suspended last week in the New Orleans Saints bounty program -- have filed appeals. But the way Hargrove and two others -- Scott Fujita and Will Smith -- have appealed perhaps was unexpected. According to ESPN.com, that trio's appeal claims that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is "without jurisdiction either to discipline the players for the conduct alleged or to determine any appeals." Hargrove, who signed with the Packers in March, received an eight-game suspension. Fujita, who now plays for the Browns, was suspended for three games. Smith, who is still with the Saints, was suspended for four games. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who received a one-year ban, has filed a separate appeal. All disciplinary action and the way it is administered is covered in the collective bargaining agreement, which was signed by the players and the owners last August. However, last week the NFL Players Association filed a grievance saying that Goodell "is prohibited from punishing players for any aspect of the case occurring before the new collective bargaining agreement was signed last August," according to ESPN.com. The union argues that an arbitrator should have the authority to decide those kinds of punishments and also decide on appeals. Neither the Packers nor Hargrove have commented on the suspension. Last week, a lawyer hired by the NFL said that Hargrove, who initially lied to investigators about the bounty program, said that Hargrove then said he was told to lie, presumably by someone with the Saints. He is allowed to attend offseason workouts, OTAs, minicamp, training camp and play in preseason games. His suspension begins Week 1 of the regular season. UPDATE (1:10 p.m.): Yahoo! Sports has obtained a copy of Hargrove's signed declaration in which the NFL said he admits to the existence of and his participation in the Saints bounty program. It also states that both defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and assistant coach Joe Vitt were the ones who told him to deny any knowledge of the Saints bounty program. The entire declaration can be found here.  

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