By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn native Anthony Hargrove, the former New Orleans Saints lineman whose sworn statement to the NFL helped expose the ongoing "Bountygate" scandal, finally issued some words of his own via email Wednesday regarding the league’s handling of his now-infamous interview.
''Call me naive, but I did not expect them to publicize the fact that I had sent them 'the Declaration,'” Hargrove noted in the email, which was sent to the Associated Press and several other news organizations. “But since they did, and because they grossly mis-characterized my words, it obviously became a hot item and subsequently was leaked by someone.
''The intent of 'the Declaration' was to let the NFL know exactly what happened in March of 2010, I do not know who leaked it, but I would have preferred for it to remain private between the NFL and me,” he added.
As reported in Wednesday’s Eagle, Hargrove told NFL investigators that he had been instructed by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and assistant head coach Joe Vitt that he should “just play dumb” when asked if he had any knowledge of the Saints’ bounty program.
Hargrove and three other Saints players received suspensions, all of which are under appeal, following the league’s investigation, and Williams was banned from coaching in the NFL indefinitely.
Vitt, who will take over for the suspended Sean Payton as the Saints’ head coach this coming season after serving his own six-game penalty, has vehemently denied telling Hargrove anything in regards to a bounty program.
Hargrove endured a trying, and at-times tragic, upbringing in East New York before moving to Port Charlotte, Fla., where he flourished as a high school football star. Despite losing his scholarship at Georgia Tech due to failing grades and flunking an NFL drug test in Buffalo in 2007, the hulking lineman helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV in Miami in February 2010, months before his sitdown with league officials.
The 29-year-old Hargrove signed a one-year deal with Green Bay in March, but will not be eligible to join the Packers until completing an eight-game suspension without play, pending his ongoing appeal.