The league claims suspended New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove chanted "give me my money" after learning that quarterback Brett Favre had been knocked out of the NFC Championship Game in January 2010. Hargrove passionately denies it was his voice. Drew Brees isn't certain who said it.
"You know, I'm not sure, and to be honest with you, I know that you can't really see his lips," Brees told "The Dan Patrick Show" on Tuesday. "And then there's this voice. Is it Hargrove? Is it (defensive tackle) Remi Ayodele? I mean, there's all these names that have been thrown out there. It's basically anyone who's standing around in that picture."
Brees made the rounds Tuesday to promote his involvement with concussion awareness, an important topic that almost nobody wanted to discuss. At least not before his contract situation; and not before he weighed in on the team's "bounty" debacle.
Brees maintained the Saints' party line, expressing frustration with the league over what he characterizes as a lack of concrete evidence.
"I really, to this point, have not seen any hard evidence, any truth, that shows that these guys were contributing money or accepting money or what have you for a pay-to-injure scheme," Brees said.
"I think pay for performance has been lumped together with pay to injure in this whole thing and just the facts and evidence and everything has been either twisted or fabricated or -- it just seems like this entire NFL investigation has been geared toward a predetermined conclusion that they wanted to reach, for whatever reason, as opposed to just going out and trying to identify the facts. And I think the facts that have been presented, thus far, don't show any proof that there was a pay-to-injure scheme going on."
Another week, another Saints player calling the NFL's investigation paper-thin. The "give me my money" clip was cited as proof of a bounty program, according to the league. Hargrove says it wasn't him. Ayodele says he doesn't remember the moment. No matter who said it, Brees doesn't see it as proof that Favre -- or anyone else -- was a target of Gregg Williams' defense.
UPDATE: When reached for comment, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told NFL.com and NFL Network that the league disagrees with what Brees told "The Dan Patrick Show".
"We completely disagree," Aiello said. "The evidence is overwhelming that the Saints conducted a prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty program for three seasons that offered rewards to players if an opponent was "carted off" or "knocked out" with an injury.
"The investigation was thorough and includes statements from multiple sources with first-hand knowledge about the details of the program, corroborating documentation and other evidence. The enforcement of the bounty rule is important to protect players that are put at risk by this kind of scheme. Certainly, Drew Brees would not want to be the target in a bounty scheme and that is why we must eliminate bounties from football."