NEW ORLEANS — Suspended former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove says he is disappointed his sworn statement regarding the NFL's bounty investigation was leaked and also that the league has "grossly mischaracterized" his words.
In a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Wednesday by his agent, Phil Williams, Hargrove said he hoped the NFL would not discuss the signed declaration publicly.
"Call me naive, but I did not expect them to publicize the fact that I had sent them 'the Declaration.' But since they did, and because they grossly mischaracterized my words, it obviously became a hot item and subsequently was leaked by someone," Hargrove's statement said.
Hargrove's declaration explains how ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current assistant head coach Joe Vitt instructed him to deny the existence of a bounty program in New Orleans when he was interviewed by NFL investigators in March of 2010.
Hargrove acknowledges that he acted on Williams' and Vitt's instructions to "play dumb" if asked whether he was aware of bounties being placed on former Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre or any other player.
The declaration does not go into specifics, however, about just what Hargrove knew or did not know about the bounty program in New Orleans, and for that reason it has become a point of contention between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
From the union's perspective, Hargrove's statement does not say that he lied to anyone, nor does it state that he or any other Saints participated in a bounty program that offered cash bonuses for hits that injured targeted opponents.
The NFL, by contrast, has said that Hargrove's words acknowledge the existence of a bounty program and show that Hargrove initially lied to NFL investigators about it.
"The intent of 'the Declaration' was to let the NFL know exactly what happened in March of 2010," said Hargrove's latest statement, which he also sent to ESPN. "I do not know who leaked it, but I would have preferred for it to remain private between the NFL and me."
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Finally on the brink of getting a new $975 million stadium, the team faces a harsh reality. They'll need to ante up more or walk away empty-handed.
Team executives insist that the private contribution be capped at $427 million. But Minnesota lawmakers are now on record demanding that the Vikings and private partners foot a bigger share of construction costs. The extra request ranges from $25 million to $105 million in differing House and Senate versions.
Negotiators will likely wind up somewhere in between. Then it's up to the Vikings to decide if they're willing to pay more.
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