So what now?
Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that a documentary filmmaker captured audio of former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams urging his defenders to injure San Francisco 49ers players the night before January's NFC divisional playoff game.
Details within Michael Silver's bomb-drop of a column tell of Williams unfurling fiery words to his players, calling for pain to be inflicted on quarterback Alex Smith, running back Frank Gore and wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams.
Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon told Silver that Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis were not on the scene when Williams delivered the speech. Pamphilon has declined NFL.com and NFL Network's request for an interview, and has declined to make available the full audio tape of Williams' speech.
The timing is notable. The Yahoo! Sports column dropped hours before Payton (suspended for the 2012 season), Loomis (eight-game suspension), and Vitt (six-game suspension) were scheduled to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to individually appeal their punishments from the league for involvement in the Saints' "bounty" program. Williams chose not to appeal his indefinite suspension.
It remains unclear if the NFL reviewed Pamphilon's alleged audio as part of their investigation. NFL.com's Steve Wyche noted to NFL Network on Thursday the league spoke with the Saints before their NFC Wild Card Game against the Detroit Lions -- more than a week before the Saints-49ers showdown.
Speaking of Silver's report, Wyche acknowledged to NFL Network: "This is not going to help."
Payton and Co. hope to revisit aspects of the league's investigation to "give Goodell pause," according to Wyche, but the commissioner and his team already have spent hours on this matter. The man who handed down the punishments -- Goodell -- will hear the appeals.
If it's discovered Williams and the Saints continued pedal to the metal with their bounty circus -- knowing they were under inspection -- it's hard to imagine what Payton, Loomis and Vitt can say to Goodell, at this late hour, to soften their punishments.