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Add 'Hargrove's Hustle' To Bounty Story That Wouldn't Die

The faces on all sides of the Saints bounty story - such as that of Roger Goodell - continue to lose public support and understanding.The faces on all sides of the Saints bounty story - such as that of Roger Goodell - continue to lose public support and understanding.

NEW ORLEANS -- Just when I was beginning to feel sorry for the overly-sanctioned players, Anthony Hargrove stepped on the witness stand and shocked me back to my senses.

If I were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, not only would I uphold Hargrove's eight-game suspension for his role in the Bounty scandal, I may extend it to a full season!

Are you kidding me?

For starters, Hargrove has changed his story so often, he hardly makes a credible witness. His version of the truth, the whole truth and nothing-but-the-truth seems to blow in an ever-changing wind.

Furthermore, Hargrove, the former Saints defensive lineman now employed by the Green Bay Packers, didn't exactly look the part of a woefully wronged player. He seemed more like the poor pawn in this ongoing chess game played between the union and league office. My first thought was the NFLPA pulled him from a charity softball game at New York's Central Park and trotted him out in front of reporters with a prepared statement in his hands.

I'm surely wrong, I think.

Fact is, the Hargrove Hustle is just the latest in a series of cheap theatrical tricks, leaks and diversions performed by both sides of the Bounty scandal. Since early March, the NFL and NFLPA have behaved like those feuding families of yesteryear, the Hatfields and McCoys, providing meaty nuggets of information, disinformation and misinformation to a media that is eager to accommodate.

In my opinion, Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, have not brought their "A'' games to a national stage. Goodell has come across as a boorish dictator -- a.k.a. "judge, jury and executioner'' in some circles -- and Smith as a whiny, vengeful schoolboy who's trying to atone for signing off on a CBA that makes Goodell the "great and powerful Oz.''

Compared to the Bounty scandal of 2012, give me the NFL Lockout of 2011 any old offseason.

I say enough is enough. Who Dat Nation, NFL fans and sports fans in general have been subjected to enough b.s. ... that's short for "Bounty Scandal.'' The embarrassing exchange of "He Said, He Said'' among players, lawyers and league officials must cease. Goodell needs to rule on the current player appeals ASAP and let's be done with it.

Somewhere, somehow in this raging sea of unfounded allegations, the big picture of player safety has gotten lost. We know the going rate for a "cart off,'' "big hit'' and "whack.'' I only hope the Saints didn't put a price tag on concussions.

That said, Vilma certainly is entitled to his day in civil court with regards to his defamation suit against Goodell. So be it.

From a league perspective, I pray the end is in sight. I hope that light at the end of this long, winding tunnel is not an oncoming train but a peaceful clearing of the air between the heads of a $10 billion corporation and the union that serves 32 masters.

As of now, there are no winners in this game, only losers.


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