But recent attention focusing on Hargrove's role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal -- he was fined for a hit on Brett Favre and reportedly reveled in the quarterback's injury during the 2009 NFC Championship Game -- has cast Hargrove in a negative light.
Hargrove has taken notice and issued the following statement:
"First of all, the purpose of this statement is simply to address the comments that have been made about me in the media. I will not address anything to do with anyone else but myself.
"In regards to the hit I made on Brett Favre that has been talked about: it was one of about five times I got to him and the only one that was late. I agree it was a late hit, but in the heat of the moment I was simply trying to make a play. I can assure you that when I got up, I was thinking two things, one, that I cost my team, and two, that I might have just cost myself some money if the NFL fined me.
"To put things in perspective, I received a game ball for my play that day and yet got fined while receiving nothing and expecting to receive nothing for the play some keep referencing. Kudos to Brett, he even asked me if that was all I had! Gotta love him.
"And in regards to my comments that have been talked about where I say that Favre is done, I readily agree that it sounds bad in retrospect. A lot of things look bad when we look back and realize how they sound. Trust me, I've said much, much worse. Heck, I probably say worse every day.
"But did I personally want Favre INJURED? Absolutely and categorically NO! Did I feel like we, the Saints, had a better chance of being in the Super Bowl with Favre on the sideline? Of course. Would the Patriots and their fans have probably been excited to see Eli [Manning] on the bench with his foot up whispering that he was done [in Super Bowl XLVI]? Would players on the sideline have made comments to that effect? Right or wrong, I'm guessing yes.
"Probably every Saints fan, player and coach got an adrenaline rush when thinking Minnesota might be in trouble. I said what many people were probably thinking, though maybe I said it in a way that sounded a bit too excited. Those who know me best know that I lean toward the animated side a bit. Okay, a lot! It's who God made me. I do regret saying it, though.
"I have made many mistakes in my life and have paid dearly for some of them, and the late hit and the comments were both mistakes, in my opinion. But players all over the league do the same thing every Sunday, make late hits and say stupid things. But I can say with absolute certainty that neither the late hit nor the comment have anything whatsoever to do with the issue being so hotly discussed in the media."
In my view, Hargrove deals honestly with the emotions players and fans feel when their team knocks a key player out of a game. The adrenaline rush comes from knowing victory might be that much closer, not from knowing a player from the other team is injured.
Hargrove says he received nothing and expected to receive nothing, bounty-wise, for the hit. But he sheds no light on other hits from that game or the bounty program in general.
Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodele, not Hargrove, were the players responsible for delivering the high-low hit that sent Favre limping to the sideline with an injured ankle. Neither of those players has confirmed or denied receiving a bounty payment, to my knowledge. Their thoughts would be welcome.