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Saints' Williams allegedly told Hargrove to 'play dumb'

Former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove was instructed to deny the existence of a bounty program by Saints assistants Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt in 2010, according to a signed declaration Hargrove submitted to the NFL.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports got his hands on the document, which was submitted by the NFLPA in hopes of showing that players were only acting under orders from coaches to keep the existence of the bounty program quiet.

"Those [expletives] have been trying to get me for years," Williams allegedly told Hargrove, referring to the NFL. "Stay on the same page, and this will blow over."

Assistant head coach Joe Vitt and Williams reportedly 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."

Hargrove did just that in his 2010 meeting with NFL Security. A week later, Williams asked Hargrove: "Did you stick to the story?"

The answer was "yes." That helped stall the NFL's investigation for two more years until the bounty scandal exploded this offseason. Hargrove's statement wound up being a central piece of evidence the league used when handing down player punishments.

Vitt strongly denied the allegations in a story reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday.

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

"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. They never threatened the integrity of the game when they crossed the white lines."

Just when you think the Saints bounty program story is winding down, we learn a little more. The whole story has yet to be told.

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