Sport Defamation Lawsuit: Another New Orleans Bounty Scandal Case On The Way?

sport defamation case study

“Bountygate” Birthed A Couple of Sport Defamation Lawsuits

Doesn’t look like the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal is going away anytime soon. In fact, Anthony Hargrove may be the next athlete to enter the sport defamation ring with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

As we reported last week, Jonathan Vilma  is already suing Goodall for defamation over statements made regarding the Saint’s alleged “pay to injure” scheme.

Anthony Hargrove, former New Orleans’ Saint and current defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers, was one of the players implicated in the scandal.

“Pay Me My Money”

In an infamous 2010 NFC championship video, Hargrove can be seen mouthing to a teammate, “Favre is done.” He was also pegged as the person saying, “Pay me my money,” on the recording. But here’s the rub: the “money” statement was said “off camera,” eliminating definitive proof that Hargrove uttered the words. Moreover, Earl Heyman – another player –said he was sitting next to the individual who made the comment and it wasn’t Hargrove.

Celebrities Have It Harder

Hargrove is a celebrity, and therefore would have to prove “actual malice” to win this sport defamation lawsuit. Meaning, he would have to prove that the party that released the tape — and attributed Hargrove’s voice to the ostensibly incriminating statement — did so willfully and recklessly.

Teammate: It wasn’t Him

According to CBS Sports, “people close to the situation who say almost everyone on the Saints team knows the identity of the voice on the tape and they say it’s not Hargrove.” If CBS Sports is correct, and Hargrove can subpoena a gaggle of teammates who will swear he didn’t say “pay me my money,” the defensive tackle could pass the actual malice test. In other words, Hargrove has a chance at winning a defamation claim against Goodall if his attorneys file a narrow claim focusing only on the “pay me my money” statement.


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