NFL suspends Packers' Hargrove eight games
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty program two years and two teams ago, new Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove has been suspended by the NFL for the first eight games of the 2012 regular season.
A statement from the league and commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear Hargrove's punishment was the result of several actions. While Hargrove was actively participating in the "pay-for-performance/bounty program" -- as the NFL called it -- he later told "at least one player on another team" the Saints had specifically targeted then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the NFC Championship Game in January 2010 and that a "large bounty" was placed on taking Favre out.
Hargrove's issues were compounded when he "actively obstructed" the league's investigation into the bounty program in 2010 by lying to investigators.
Of the four Saints or former Saints players suspended by the NFL, Hargrove received the second-longest punishment. One player, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is still with the Saints, has been suspended for the entire season.
Hargrove will be able to participate in all offseason activities, including preseason games. His eight-game suspension will begin Week 1 of the regular season, and he will be allowed to return in Week 9.
Hargrove now has three days to appeal the suspension. If he decides to appeal, Goodell will hold a hearing on the case, which would allow Hargrove an opportunity to speak on his behalf.
"It is the obligation of everyone, including the players on the field, to ensure that rules designed to promote player safety, fair play and the integrity of the game are adhered to and effectively and consistently enforced," Goodell said in a statement. "Respect for the men that play the game starts with the way players conduct themselves with each other on the field.
"In assessing player discipline, I focused on players who were in leadership positions at the Saints; contributed a particularly large sum of money toward the program; specifically contributed to a bounty on an opposing player; demonstrated a clear intent to participate in a program that potentially injured opposing players; sought rewards for doing so; and/or obstructed the 2010 investigation."
Hargrove was signed by the Packers in late March to a one-year contract. Green Bay will now enter the regular season with limited depth on its defensive line, as fellow end Mike Neal is suspended for the first four games due to a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.
With B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett starting at two of three defensive line spots in coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme, the final starting position will now likely come down to a battle between incumbent Jarius Wynn -- who got the majority of the snaps there in 2011 -- and new addition Jerel Worthy, a second-round pick out of Michigan State.
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