Roger Goodell: Audio not key to Anthony Hargrove's suspension

In denying Anthony Hargrove's suspension appeal this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote that it was unimportant whether or not the defensive end was the New Orleans Saint who was recorded as saying "give me my money" after former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre took a big hit in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

NFL general counsel Jeff Pash previously said Hargrove's suspension was for lying about the program, not for taking or contributing money to "bounties."

Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, received an eight-game suspension for his part in the Saints' "bounty" program, in which players paid into a system, led by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009 to 2011, that offered improper cash payments to teammates who injured targeted opponents. Hargrove's suspension -- as well as those of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (one season), defensive end Will Smith (four games) and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three games) -- was upheld Tuesday by Goodell.

The sideline recording had been presented as evidence against the suspended players, but Hargrove denied that the voice on the tape is his.

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"For purposes of addressing Mr. Hargrove's appeal, I need not resolve the issue of who made the statement," Goodell wrote in a letter to the players. "Instead, I am prepared to assume -- as he apparently stated publicly -- that he did not make it. But that statement is relevant because, regardless of which player said it, it corroborates other evidence that there was an incentive in place for knocking Mr. Favre out of the game and that the members of the Saints defense, including Mr. Hargrove, were well aware of that fact.

"The identity of the player who made the statement was immaterial to my decision on your appeals and did not affect the level of discipline imposed on Mr. Hargrove."

On Friday, the NFL Players Association's lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of Hargrove, Fujita and Smith was consolidated with= Vilma's defamation lawsuit against Goodell.

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