24

June

Examining the Anthony Hargrove “Give Me My Money” Video

Here’s a very interesting breakdown by Mike Florio of the National Football Post of the video the NFL claims shows Anthony Hargrove saying “Give me my money.” I don’t agree with Florio on many things, but I believe he is right on the money (pun intended) with this one.

There is NO way anyone can watch this video and conclude it’s Anthony Hargrove saying those words. It might be him, and it might not. Lets take a look:

 

Today, Florio spoke with NFL General Counsel Jeff Pash, who told Florio this about the video: “…demonstrates Mr. Hargrove’s awareness of the program and his understanding that it existed, and it demonstrates that his statements to our investigators in early 2010 denying the program and saying there was nothing like that  in existence were false.  That is the basis on which the Commissioner imposed discipline on Mr. Hargrove.” Here is that video:

Florio is quick to point out that Pash’s point is pretty much invalid if Hargrove didn’t say it himself, Florio writes,  ”His second point continues to depend, however, on a finding that Hargrove and no one else said, “give me my money.”  And the video simply does not prove that.”

Now, I’m not suggesting there wasn’t a bounty program, we all know there was. I’m only saying that this particular piece of “evidence” the NFL is touting, which happens to affect Anthony Hargrove directly, does not prove what the NFL says it proves.

My take on the video is that it’s Remi Adoyele saying “give me my money.” Ayodele’s head turns towards Vitt just before those words are spoken and then away from Vitt right after those words. Ayodele was one of the players in on the violent hit on Brett Favre that Vitt thought had knocked Favre out of the game. Hargrove wasn’t even in the game on that play. Why would Hargrove have a reason to say “give me my money?”

The NFL is wrong on this, and they know they are wrong – which is why they are refusing to let this matter get taken outside the confines of the NFL. That begs the question, what else are they wrong about? If you want to explore that point further, take a look at this article by Mike Freeman of CBSsports.com. Mike goes down the list of the NFL’s evidence and grades the validity of each one.

22

June

Packers Tough Opponents More Worrisome than Quirky Early-Season Schedule

Packers Training Camp

There is not much structure in the Packers early-season schedule.

I’m one of those people that shows up early to work and tries to get as much done as possible before other people start filing into the office and my phone starts ringing.

Yeah, it’s no fun dragging myself out of bed at 5:15 a.m., but once I get to the office and get rolling, it’s nice to have a few hours of relative quiet time so I can get my busy work out of the way before tackling the tasks that require me to interact with other human beings.

With the Packers first four games starting at 3:15 p.m., 7:20 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., rising early is not an option.

The training camp schedule also is a little different. After a week of practices starting at 8:15 a.m., the Packers will have seven consecutive practices at night, followed by a week of practices that start at 11 or 11:15 a.m.

McCarthy originally thought about eliminating night practices this season, but changed his mind once he saw the quirky start times for his team’s first four games. From PackerReport:

“The fact that we come out of the gate and play Sunday afternoon on national TV at home, then play Thursday night at home and then go away 11 days later on a Monday night, and then on a short week here at home, I wanted to make sure our players were challenged from the fact of the regularity is going to be a little up and down to start the season,” McCarthy said.

Many Packers fans might be asking why start times and dates of games are such a big deal. To us, it probably isn’t that big of a deal. And in all likelihood, it probably won’t be that big of a deal to the Packers, either.

But this is the kind of stuff that drives an NFL coach crazy. Coaches want their teams to get into a routine. Players like routine, too. Routine helps coaches control their players and it helps players develop positive work habits and structure.

If the Packers were an unproven team filled with players that had questionable levels of maturity, this lack of an early-season routine might be cause for concern. But they’re not. They’re a team with a lot of talent and very few players that won’t be able to handle a quirky schedule (as far as I know, anyway).

18

June

Hargrove to Appeal Suspension Today: Agent Rips Into NFL

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.)

29

May

NFC North: Jim Schwartz’s Seat Should Be Heating Up

Lions coach Jim Schwartz

Schwartz's antics should be raising some eyebrows in the Motor CIty

If you took a poll of 100 NFL fans and asked them which of the four head coaches in the NFC North was on the hottest seat entering the 2012 season, a majority very likely would choose Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith who survived a mediocre season which was followed by a major shakeup in the Bears’ front office.

In this case, the majority would be wrong. Or at least they should be.

As of late I would argue that Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has caught Smith and perhaps even passed him as the NFC North coach in the most hot water.

To many, this seems like a preposterous line of thought. Schwartz has been a key player in turning the Lions from an 0-16 laughing stock to a team that just qualified for the playoffs for the first time in forever. He has one of the league’s best quarterback/receiver tandems in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson and has a formidable defense to boot. Firing Schwartz seems utterly insane.

If you only looked at the on field product, it would be. Throw in events off the field, and things become a little more sketchy. With Lions defensive end Nick Fairley recently being arrested for the second time in nearly two months on top of Ndamukong Suh’s temptation to get stomping mad plus Schwartz’s handshake skills and the happy story of the Lions’ turnaround quickly takes a detour down a dark path.

In the name of fairness to Schwartz, I am not laying the poor decisions made by Fairley and others at the feet of the head coach. The poor choices were made by the players and the players alone.

However, Schwartz’s growing reputation around the league as a class A jerk is surely minimizing the amount of sympathy points he is getting from his peers.

To think Schwartz is being given the short end of the stick is too nearsighted. Take a look at Marvin Lewis with the Cincinnati Bengals. That team became a punchline around the league thanks to what seemed like a Bengal being arrested every single day. The Bengals were more notable for off the field debauchery than they were for on the field success.

21

March

Saints had Bounty on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints in last season's opening game.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came down hard on the New Orleans Saints for paying bounties on opposing players. The punishment:

  • Indefinite suspension of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams
  • One-year suspension of coach Sean Payton
  • Eight-game suspension of general manager Mickey Loomis
  • Six-game suspension of assistant-head coach Joe Vitt
  • A $500,000 franchise fine
  • Forfeiture of second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013
  • Future discipline of individual players to be determined

The NFL also confirmed that the Saints had a bounty on Vikings QB Brett Favre in the NFC championship game and on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the 2011 season opener.

Here’s more on the Rodgers’ bounty:

“Further, prior to the Saints’ opening game in 2011, Coach Payton received an email from a close associate that stated in part, “PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers (sic).” When shown the email during the course of the investigation, Coach Payton stated that it referred to a “bounty” on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.”

Thanks to the Saints being docked a second-round pick, the Packers will move up one spot in the second round of this year’s draft, jumping from 60th overall to pick No. 59.

My only concern with the punishment is letting the Saints keep next year’s first-round pick. What if the absence of Payton and a few key injuries cause the Saints to have a season like the Colts just had and they end up with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013? I would’ve docked the Saint’s third- or fourth-round pick this year and taken away their first-rounder next year.

Also, if any Vikings fans whine too loudly about the beating Favre took in the NFC championship game, remind them that a bounty didn’t prevent Rodgers and the Packers from beating New Orleans last season.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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