Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove has been suspended for eight games this year for his role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
Hargrove and three other players found out their punishments from the NFL Wednesday morning. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma received the most severe punishment, being suspended without pay for the full 2012 season. Defensive end Will Smith has been suspended for four games and linebacker Scott Fujita, who now plays for Cleveland, has been suspended for three games.
According to the league, Saints defensive captain Vilma offered $10,000 in cash to any player who knocked then-Cardinals QB Warner out of a playoff game at the end of the 2009 season, and the same amount for knocking then-Vikings QB Favre out of that season's NFC championship game. The Saints were flagged for roughing Favre twice in that game, and the league later said they should have received another penalty for a brutal high-low hit from Remi Ayodele and Bobby McCray that hurt Favre's ankle. He was able to finish the game, but the Saints won in overtime en route to the NFL title.
"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," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
An NFL investigation determined that the Saints had a bounty system from 2009-11 that offered thousands of dollars to players for big hits that knocked opponents out of games.
According to the NFL, Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it. The evidence showed that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that former Packer and then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of a large bounty during the NFC Championship Game in January 2010. Hargrove also actively obstructed the league's 2010 investigation into the program by being untruthful to investigators, the league said.
Hargrove is allowed to participate in all preseason activities including games. He signed with the Packers in March.
Hargrove played for New Orleans in 2009 and 2010. He was suspended in 2008 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.