New Orleans Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt has denied telling former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove to lie about the team’s alleged bounty program.
Yahoo! Sports on Monday obtained a declaration signed by Hargrove that claimed Vitt and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams directed him to mislead NFL officials when they first began looking into allegations of a pay-for-injury scheme in 2010.
But Vitt fired back at the claims Monday night, telling The Times-Picayune he never told Hargrove to deceive officials.
"At no time did I ever tell Anthony Hargrove to lie or deny the existence [of the alleged bounty program]," Vitt told the paper. "He can say whatever he wants to say. It just didn’t happen."
Hargrove reportedly sent the signed document to the league through the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) in April, which said Vitt and Williams told him during a closed-door meeting in February 2010 that they intended to lie to officials and that he should do the same.
The perceived hope by Hargrove and the players union by sending the declaration was to show the league that the players were merely following orders and should not be severely punished.
Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, was suspended last week for eight games for his alleged involvement in the program. He and three other players disciplined for their alleged participation filed appeals with the league Monday.
Vitt was hit with a six-game ban for the upcoming season, and will serve as the team’s interim head coach after completing his suspension with Sean Payton banned for the entire season.