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Joe Vitt denies sworn statement that he ordered player to lie

  • By NFL.com
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Interim New Orleans Saints coach Joe Vitt flatly denied on Monday that he told former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove to lie about the team's bounty program, as Hargrove claimed in a sworn statement last month to the NFL.

"At no time did I ever tell Anthony Hargrove to lie or deny the existence (of the alleged bounty program)," Vitt said, according to The Times-Picayune. "He can say whatever he wants to say. It just didn't happen."

Hargrove, who now plays for the Green Bay Packers, was one of four players to receive suspensions from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for their roles in the "bounty" program, in which the Saints were found to have offered defensive players money to knock certain opponents out of games from 2009 to 2011.

Hargrove, Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita and Will Smith have all either appealed their suspensions or signaled their intent to do so.

According to the allegations in Hargrove's statement, which was obtained Monday by Yahoo! Sports, Vitt and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams told Hargrove multiple times to deny the existence of any bounty program to the NFL, with Vitt reminding Hargrove that he brought Hargrove into the NFL and to the Saints, and both men telling Hargrove to "play dumb."

Vitt, who was suspended for the first six games of the 2012 regular season (Williams was suspended indefinitely while Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for one year), maintained his and the Saints' innocence again on Monday.

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"We had a pot for big plays, the same thing everyone else in the league has, now they call them pay-for-performance. But we never paid for dirty hits," Vitt said. "I'll say it again, the exact same thing I told the commissioner, our players never crossed the white lines with an intent to maim or injure."

Hargrove's declaration also mentioned that Williams told him some people were under the impression that he told defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy of the Minnesota Vikings that the Saints put a bounty on Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

Kennedy, who is now with the New York Giants, denied any such communication from Hargrove on Twitter Monday night, according to the Times-Picayune.

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