Ex-Saint: Coaches made me lie about bounties

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Ex-Saint: Coaches made me lie about bounties

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargove describes in a sworn statement how he was told by ex-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current New Orleans assistant head coach Joe Vitt to deny the existence of a bounty program to NFL investigators.In a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press, Hargrove acknowledges that he acted on Williams' and Vitt's instructions to "play dumb" if asked whether he was aware of bounties being placed on former Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre or any other player.The declaration does not go into specifics, however, about just what Hargrove knew or did not know about the bounty program in New Orleans, and for that reason it has become a point of contention between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.From the union's perspective, Hargrove's statement does not say that he lied to anyone, nor does it state that he or any other Saints participated in a bounty program that offered cash bonuses for hits that injured targeted opponents.The NFL, by contrast, has said that Hargrove's words acknowledge the existence of a bounty program and show that Hargrove initially lied to NFL investigators about it.In describing Hargrove's declaration last week, Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney hired by the NFL to review its investigation, said the player, "acknowledges the nature of the program and his participation in it, and, which is really the thrust of the declaration, that he was told to lie about it, and he did when he was asked about it in 2010 by the NFL investigators."Hargrove, currently with Green Bay, was one of four players who received suspensions of various lengths in connection with the bounty probe. Hargrove was suspended eight games, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire season, Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita for three games.Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg called the NFL's characterization of Hargrove's statement "misleading.""All we know from the declaration is that a couple of coaches were in trouble and hoped for support from him," Ginsberg said. "Anthony's declaration in no way supports that he lied, that a bounty system existed or that players participated in any kind of inappropriate program. It's a shame that the NFL needed to have mischaracterized that declaration in order to justify these punishments. It's just another reason to conclude that the NFL has no evidence to justify what it has done to the players."The NFL has said the Saints' bounty program was run by Williams from 2009 through 2011. Williams has been suspended indefinitely by the league and has apologized for his actions.All four players are appealing. The NFLPA also has filed grievances with the NFL, arguing that Commissioner Roger Goodell lacked the authority to punish players for off-the-field matters that predated last August's new collective bargaining agreement, and that Goodell should not hear the appeals of the players' suspensions in the bounty matter.No other players are mentioned in Hargrove's sworn statement, which also does not contain any description of payments being pledged, made, or received.In his declaration, first published Monday by Yahoo Sports, Hargrove describes how he was called into a late February 2010 meeting with Williams and Vitt. The coaches said they had heard Hargrove might have told Minnesota Vikings player Jimmy Kennedy -- a friend and former teammate in St. Louis -- that there had been a bounty on Favre in the NFL title game near the end of the 2009 season.The statement then describes Williams saying, in obscenity-laced terms, that league officials, "have been trying to get me for years," and "if we all stay on the same page, this will blow over."It also describes Vitt reminding Hargrove that he brought him into the league with St. Louis and later brought him to the Saints -- a second chance Hargrove had sought in the NFL after being suspended for drug abuse.Hargrove's statement says that in March 2010 he met with NFL investigators, who asked him a range of questions about a bounty program in New Orleans, and that he denied knowledge of any of it, in line with the "clear directions" he had received from Williams and Vitt.

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Orioles' eight run lead not enough to hold off Yankees

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USA Today Sports

Orioles' eight run lead not enough to hold off Yankees

NEW YORK -- Matt Holliday hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning and the New York Yankees completed a stunning rally from an eight-run deficit, outslugging the Baltimore Orioles 14-11 on Friday night.

In a game of home run derby, Starlin Castro tied it with a two-run drive that capped a three-run burst in the ninth off Brad Brach. Then in the 10th, Holliday hit the eighth home run of the evening -- five by the Yankees -- with one out off Jayson Aquino (1-1).

"I was all nervous with Adam Jones out there," Holliday said of the Orioles' Gold Glove center fielder. "Just enough to get it over the fence."

Down 9-1 in the sixth, the Yankees pulled off their biggest comeback since overcoming a 9-0 gap to beat Boston 15-9 in 2012.

On the first true spring-like day in New York, the ball was flying. Featured were all kinds of monster shots -- cleanup men Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Trumbo connected for grand slams, and Yankees fan favorite Aaron Judge homered twice, including a drive tracked at 119.4 mph off the bat, the hardest-hit ball since Statcast began counting in 2015.

Manny Machado launched a 470-foot homer, the longest in the majors this year, and Welington Castro also homered for Baltimore.

Aroldis Chapman (1-0) pitched the 10th as the Yankees won their third straight and tied Baltimore at 14-7 for the AL East lead.

Ellsbury hit his 100th career home run and first slam, tagging Vidal Nuno and drawing New York to 11-8 in the seventh.

Brach had started the season with 12 scoreless innings before the Yankees got him. A leadoff walk and a double by Holliday set up Ellsbury's grounder for his fifth RBI, and Castro followed with a shot far into the left-field seats.

Machado, who began the day batting just .205 with three home runs, also hit a two-run double and singled against CC Sabathia.

Trumbo was stuck in a worse rut, an 0-for-25 slide dropping him to .185. After grounding a soft single, he hit his fourth career slam, measured at 459 feet by Statcast and putting the Orioles up by eight runs in the sixth.

Trumbo led the majors with 47 home runs last year. This season, his only previous homer had been a game-ending shot on opening day.

Judge lined a shot into the Baltimore bullpen in the fifth. In the sixth, he hit his ninth homer, a two-run homer that made it 9-4.

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Nationals lose game and Adam Eaton on the same night

Nationals lose game and Adam Eaton on the same night

WASHINGTON -- Josh Edgin relieved Mets closer Jeurys Familia with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and got Bryce Harper to hit into a game-ending double play, finishing a 7-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night that stopped New York's six-game losing streak.

New York had lost 10 of 11 and put star slugger Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list before the game with a strained hamstring. Travis d'Arnaud then homered twice and had five RBIs for the Mets, who were clinging to a two-run lead when they brought in Familia.

Matt Wieters singled leading off, and Adam Lind's single sent pinch runner Joe Ross to third. Adam Eaton followed with an infield single to shortstop and injured his left ankle as he stepped on first base. Eaton needed to be helped off the field and was replaced by pinch runner Chris Heisey.

Unfortunately for Eaton, he awkwardly tagged the front of the bag twisting his left ankle on the infield single. 

Needing help to get off the field, the injury does not bode well for the Nationals early into their season. 

Familia struck out Trea Turner, and Mets manager Terry Collins brought in Edgin, a left-hander, to face the left-handed-hitting Harper.

Harper hit a one-hopper to Edgin, who threw home for a forceout, and d'Arnaud threw to first for the double play, giving Edgin his second big league save and first since 2013.

D'Arnaud hit a two-run homer in the second and a three-run drive in the fourth off Max Scherzer (3-2), who lasted six innings.

Jacob deGrom (1-1) struck out 12 in his third consecutive double-digit strikeout game and the 13th of his career.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice for the Nationals, who had won 10 of their previous 11. Zimmerman tied Andre Dawson for second on the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise list with 225.

After giving up two home runs in the second, deGrom (1-1) encountered little trouble during the rest of his seven-inning stint. The right-hander retired 15 of the last 19 batters he faced, including nine via strikeout.