Hargrove to Appeal Suspension Today: Agent Rips Into NFL

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Green Bay Packers Anthony Hargrove
Hargrove appeals suspension today.

Anthony Hargrove and the three other players suspended in the “BountyGate” scandal will have their appeals heard today by none other than the man who handed them out, Roger Goodell. That is one big bone of contention for the players and their representatives, who previously pushed for an impartial arbitrator but lost that battle.

According to Keven Seifert of ESPN, Hargrove’s agent, Phil Williams, is not the type of loud-mouthed agent who goes spouting off on a regular basis. Yet, he felt so strongly about this case and the “injustice” being layed down on Hargrove that he put his own reputation on the line with a blistering letter questioning the NFL’s honesty and underhanded tactics.

The NFL waited until just days before the appeal hearing to release their “evidence,” in a rather transparent attempt to make it as difficult as possible for the players’ representatives to build an appeals case. While it’s accepted as fact that a bounty program was in place at New Orleans (as it probably was on many other teams), is it fair to single out just four players for punishment when many more participated?

But beyond those types of questions, my main issue with this whole case is how the NFL (and specifically Roger Goodell)  are suing strong-arm tactics and in the process, eliminating any sense of fairness. This would be like a trial judge who imposed a sentence showing up on the judge’s bench when the same “defendant” appeals their case.

The dictionary definition of a czar is an “autocratic ruler exercising great authority or power.” There is no doubt that in the world of football, Roger Goodell has been a “czar” for quite some time. He is quickly approaching the title of despot – a tyrant or oppressor with absolute power.

Perhaps he’s feeling the pressure of this massive concussion suit and is circling the wagons in every way possible. But there’s still no excuse for being that unfair and frankly, I find it distasteful.

(Going off on a tangent, there is a VERY thought-provoking article at the Business Insider on what they see as potential radical changes that may be coming to the sport of football at every level as a result of the concussion issue. A must-read, whether you agree with their conclusions, or not.)

Getting back to Goodell, Hargrove’s agent asks some very valid questions, none of which anyone at the NFL will care to answer. Here’s the full transcript of Williams’ letter to the NFL:


Questions for the League Office in Regards to “Bountygate:” 

Why is the NFL acting in a way that, to many of us, appears to be so “cloak and dagger”? Even though the CBA gave you the right to wait until Friday afternoon to hand over “evidence”, was it really necessary to do so? Why was it important to give them (the NFLPA and players) only a weekend to study what you considered to be the “evidence”? If these men have committed such grievous crimes that you have determined that their careers should be in danger and/or their names sullied, why be so secretive about the “evidence” that you use to condemn them? Do you care about NFL players enough to be above board with them? They are what makes the NFL the NFL, are they not? If there is a large “pool” of players that you could have made examples of from across the NFL (and there is!), why did you choose these men? And do you really think it fair to “make examples” out of them? What if you are the ones chosen to be “made examples of” in the future? 

Why must you demand your right to be judge, jury, and executioner? Even if you have the right, must you use it? Is there anything to be lost by allowing those who are impartial to have a say-so in whether these judged men are truly given a shot at justice? And did you sincerely consider what you gave the NFLPA sufficient enough to tarnish men’s careers and reputations? If you believe the “evidence” to be so substantial that you would espouse the 50,000-plus page file, why would most of those pages have zero to do with “bounties” or even “pay-for-performance”? Do you actually have any concrete evidence that any player from another team was injured as a result of a “bounty” and that a player from the Saints was therefore paid accordingly? Can you honestly say that the Saints employed a 3-year “bounty program” if no one was ever paid for a “bounty”? Would that not constitute one of the worst followed programs ever witnessed? Should there not have been dozens of rewards paid out, if in fact, “bounties for injuries” (which is what this was all about in the beginning, I think) paid out money? And why would your “independent” counsel be so highly paid for their counsel (by you) and also be so secretive? Again, if the facts are so obvious, why not allow someone truly impartial to make the final decision and therefore validate your judgments? 

Is honesty truly paramount to you? If so, why did you take Anthony Hargrove’s declaration and state that it said things that it did not say? Is that honest? Why did you state that Anthony “admitted to lying” when he has done no such thing? Do you hold yourself to the same standard as you hold others? Have you “admitted to lying”? To clarify, would you consider it lying to say someone “admitted to lying” when they did not do so? And why did you not consider the remarkably difficult situation that Anthony was put in by his coaches, who to him were the NFL”? What would you have done if you had been back in the NFL for less than a year, having served a year-long suspension, with the threat of your career ending (again) hanging over your head? Would you have disobeyed your employer? Would you now? And is it possible that the interview was aboutsemantics, anyway? 

Why did you state that the players declined to be interviewed? Did you not know that Anthony agreed to be interviewed in early April, even scheduled a meeting (Tuesday, April 3, 10A.M.) and was told he would be sent flight information, waited for it, and never even received a cancellation notice? If this is true, which it is, is it fair to state as fact that he simply declined, after which he again agreed to consider meeting if certain criteria were met, which you declined to do? Is that being totally truthful? And why do you say that he spoke to someone on another team about an alleged “bounty” program back during the time in question, when in fact he did not? And why was he the only player you chose to interview about the so-called “bounty” program at that time? Was it because of his difficult past? Was it possibly because he was an easy target? 

Do you not recognize that we sometimes utter words or phrases that have different meanings depending on their context? For example, have you as fathers ever told your children that you wanted to “tear them up” or “wring their neck” or “blister their hide” or some such other threat? Tough words, but have we not all spoken such rash things at times, though obviously not meaning the full extent of their definition? Do moments of “lost tempers” or “harsh words” for our children “when things get emotional” constitute “programs of terror” on them? Does clamoring for an 18-game schedule exhibit wanton disregard for the health and safety of the players you “lead” (or was that simply a motivational ploy as it related to the negotiation of the CBA)? Is it possible that some might construe that as a “bounty program” in its own right, i.e. extra revenues resulting in a probability of more injuries? In fact, is it possible that the overwhelming majority of this pressing dilemma is about semantics? And if so, is it possible to admit it? Or, has the genie escaped the bottle with no hope of return? 

I love Anthony Hargrove. Plain and simple. I have watched him grow from a dysfunctional young man into a man that I admire and respect. Perfect? No. But who is? I have watched him reach “the bottom” and then mature in ways that almost defy what I could have possibly hoped for. He has learned to handle adversity in ways I believe we all could learn from, not the least of which is how I have watched him deal with his potential suspension and what has been said about him and his supposed role in what has been called Bountygate. Though a more appropriate name might be Semantics-gate. 


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.


26 thoughts on “Hargrove to Appeal Suspension Today: Agent Rips Into NFL

  1. I don’t see this letter doing anything more than to ‘infuriate’ Goodell and simply move him to dump the last shovel of dirt on any reduction of suspensions.

    Blaming Goodell for wielding the power voted unto him by both sides is ridiculous.Haven’t we seen re-occurrence of offenses by players who have been shown leniency by Goodell.

    Whether any player actual got to collect money for a bounty simple means they weren’t successful at the time.Does that mean they should be unpunished for the program until a player actually suffers from it.

    Even in the court of law that governs all of us….intent is punishable when the possible result from such is deemed horrid.

    1. And in the court of law that governs us, we are all entitled to a fair decision by a judge or a trial by a jury of our peers. And we can appeal decisions and not have them heard by the same judge.

      1. Absolutely and it makes the Judicial System great.

        However,is this a Civil,State or Federal Crime..no,it’s an internal Corporation punishment being served via the CBA agreement reached by both parties,the NFL and the NFLPA.

        IMO,bringing this to the outside Court system on any level changes the whole face of the deeds whether successful to obtaining payment or not,as the outside Court will look at this as a contract to inflict injury for hire…ala a MOB HIT.
        This will dictate jail time and not just a suspension from football games.

        The Arbitors who ruled against the players and the NFLPA as a whole did them a huge favor by attempting to keep it in-house.

        This is a can of worms that is best not brought to the outside Courts.IMO

        1. I hadn’t suggested getting the courts involved, you brought up the court system, so I furthered the analogy. My main issue is the “judge, jury and executioner” scenario.

          1. Nor am I,just used it in regard to the intent and the players saying they never collected money and thinking that ends all. Anyhow,hope you enjoyed Fathers Day!

  2. Do we(John/Joan Q. Public) have an issue with players and coaches being punished for a bounty program when it was clearly told to everyone in the NFL to stop it? NO

    Do we have an issue with suspensions and even possible removal of a coach from the NFL? NO

    I have an issue with the NFLPA. They don’t take care of the players by setting up financial planners, retirement planning, future education programs, or even a structured longterm medical program. This Union is a joke, a sham. You have players caught cheating and even admitting to it in the case of bounties and the union defends only the accused and not the players that were targets of the abuse. What complete and utter nonsense.

    How long has the starcaps BS been going on…. 4 or 5 years?? What about the players not in Minnessota that served their suspensions? Where is the fair and level balance in the Players Union? NOWHERE

    I know Green Bay has Hargrove. Tell him to shut up and take the 8 games because it is the right thing to do to make up for a serious breach as a man and a player in the NFL.

    Is Goodell the judge jury and executioner?

    Is Goodell going to have to try and keep the NFL alive from the concussion lawsuits that could end and destroy the entire League?

    He need to do what it takes to save the league and the game we fans love.

  3. Unfortunately, Theres a better chance that RG extends Hargrove’s sentence then reduce it. In wake of the concussion law suits, and RGs track record of discipline ,I do not see leniency in this case.

  4. 1-the tape of coach williams. 2- Hargrove’s tape of “pay me my money”. 3- NO organization would not support the players request. 4-RG has a mandate to “image” the NFL to the viewing public. 5- Please read the collective bargaining agreement you members of the NFLPA. It is now time to move on, not to try to litigate what you already have given away in the signed agreement.

      1. I guess double-teamed hits didn’t count for collection and Hargrove was reminding them of it.

  5. Good article Al. Thanks. I posted my thoughts below on CHTV too – but I thought it would also be thought provoking here…

    I know the odds are less than Zero that Goodell reverses his own judgement. His “sheriff, judge, jury, and executioner” shtick is beyond old.

    However, what do you think are the chances that the four suspended players appeal to the federal system and get an injunction that delays the suspensions indefinitely (a la Fat Pat Williams)?

  6. I would hope that any of you would fight for what you believe is fair treatment instead of just “sucking it up” and taking your lumps. Justice is more than just about procedure and the CBA.

    I’m not saying these players don’t deserve to be held accountable, but the big issue is the severity and inequality of these punishments and why only those specific players were targeted in the case.

    The added layer is the question of whether or not it’s right to have to appeal back to Goodell. But that itself has no bearing on the facts of the case.

  7. Anthony is slime he treats is fam like shi# an always talks about family values he recently kicked his family to the curve an left them homeless n did even really care so he really deserves what he has coming to him sorry to say…..

  8. I understand why Hargrove and his agent are trying to make the appeal process a public spectacle. It is just their way to make sure their side is heard and possibly move public opinion towards their position. That’s a smart move on their part.

    The other side of coin is the massive law suit being brought forward by the NFLPA. Sorry guys you can’t, on one hand, decry the negligence of the NFL and at the same time ignore an organized effort by a team to inflict injury on other players. The suspensions will stand just because they can’t back off now without adding foder to the NFLPA legal action.

    The lawyers are well on the way to changing the game as we know it.

  9. @ tarynfor12 anybody can write a story but if its fact or fiction is the question first off tell me how good u no tony an yes i said tony cause i no him on a first name basis he to me is living n a movie right now n he wrote the hold script for people like u to follow but people like me no the real story tony moved to fla with his brother an sister after his mom died with his aunt n her 3 kids an lived a pretty good life minus all the sobe shit he tells yall tony recently built a organization called team hargove containing all his brothers n sister putting them on a payroll but not payin them shit n using them for there services makin them quit there jobs an school but when the shit hit da fan bout dis bounty he kick them all out n said fuck them leaving them homeless n without nothin NOW READ DAT STORY!!!!!

    1. Do you have links to verify or you just spouting hate for being previously dissed by him…if you actually know him?

  10. yes i have plenty proof im part of his family really google him n see if he went to port Charlotte high n see if he started a organization called team hargrove along wit a semi pro football team i can tell u his hole life story THE REAL ONE!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I just want to get this straight, you’re saying he somehow “Made” his family quit their good paying jobs and work for “team Hargrove”, where he paid them less than they were making elsewhere?

      That doesn’t make sense.

      Is it possible, just maybe, that he started this organization to give his family and friends jobs because they didn’t have a better job offer.. And possibly, some people who are jealousy and/or envious of the money Tony makes as an NFL player complain and whine that he’s not paying them well enough?

      I only ask because I can’t imagine why anyone would leave their good paying job to go work for a low, horrible pay rate.

      Maybe you know what you’re talking about, but this sure sounds like you’ve been guzzling down the haterade.

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