The NFL's explanation for how it learned of the New Orleans Saints alleged bounty program goes like this: Former Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove told former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy about it at some point near the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Kennedy told Vikings coach Brad Childress, and Childress reported it to the league.
Friday, Kennedy denied his role as the bounty whistleblower and said the NFL has distributed "blatant lies about me." In a statement released by the NFL Players Association, Kennedy said: "Coach Childress approached me and asked me if I knew anything about such an allegation, and I told him the truth: I did not. I had no knowledge of any such alleged bounty."
Further, Kennedy said it is "an utter lie" to suggest Hargrove told him about the bounty. Kennedy: "It simply never happened. I never discussed an alleged bounty with Anthony Hargrove before, during or after the NFC Championship Game. The only discussion I have had with Anthony about the alleged bounty occurred when we recently spoke about the NFL’s egregiously flawed and unjust investigation and proceeding."
I've had plenty to say about the NFL's investigation of the bounty program, especially as it related to Hargrove during the time he spent with the Green Bay Packers. To be blunt, much of it doesn't pass the smell test. (Many of those posts can be found in this link.)
Hargrove and Kennedy have now both denied the NFL's claims on how Childress became convinced there was a bounty; Childress hasn't commented to my knowledge. And as we've discussed, the evidence the NFL presented against Hargrove has either been debunked or substantially discredited.
We all know the NFL didn't have to meet a legal standard in order to make these accusations and distribute discipline. And part of the language in Kennedy's statement no doubt is setting up the inevitable legal battle that is only beginning. But I agree with one sentiment in the statement from Kennedy, who said he is now among "the list of men whose reputations and character have been irreparably damaged by the shoddy, careless, shameful so-called investigation behind this sham proceeding."
That language might be a bit over the top, but careers have been altered and lives changed forever as a result of this bounty investigation. To this point, it's difficult to say that impact has been merited.