Current Seattle Seahawks defensive end Anthony Hargrove finds himself in the middle of the league's investigation into a "bounty" program instituted by the New Orleans Saints and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009 to 2011.
Hargrove, who played two seasons (2009-10) in New Orleans, was a central figure in the Saints' 2009 NFC Championship Game win over Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings that was highlighted in the league's investigation. Hargrove was one of the Saints penalized for a late hit on Favre in the game and was later fined $5,000. According to a Sports Illustrated report this week, he was among those who celebrated as Favre was carried off the field with an ankle injury, reportedly exclaiming: "Favre is out of the game! Favre is done! Favre is done!"
Hargrove released a statement to Sports Illustrated in reaction to his name surfacing as part of the story, which he said "is simply to address the comments that have been made about me in the media."
In the statement, Hargrove admitted he hit Favre late and was worried about being fined by the league. But he also made it clear he received nothing for the hit in terms of a payment and didn't expect to for the play in question. Hargrove also admitted to making comments about Favre after the injury, but said they were based on the competitive advantage of the quarterback being out of the game, and that he probably "sounded a bit too excited."
"... In regards to my comments that have been talked about where I say that Favre is done, I readily agree that it sounds bad in retrospect," Hargrove said in the statement. "A lot of things look bad when we look back and realize how they sound. Trust me, I've said much, much worse. Heck, I probably say worse every day. But did I personally want Favre INJURED? Absolutely and categorically NO!"
Hargrove, a recovering addict who returned from a league suspension to resume his career, finished by saying the late hit was in no way involved with an organized "bounty" system.
"I have made many mistakes in my life and have paid dearly for some of them, and the late hit and the comments were both mistakes, in my opinion," Hargrove's statement read. "But players all over the league do the same thing every Sunday, make late hits and say stupid things. But I can say with absolute certainty that neither the late hit nor the comment have anything whatsoever to do with the issue being so hotly discussed in the media."