Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma met with Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday in what one source described as a "productive, at times contentious" meeting that, the source also said, emerged with all sides hopeful some sort of deal could be struck.
That last part remains highly doubtful but it is one of the first instances when the word "hopeful" was used by anyone in this long, crazy process.
CBSSports.com can confirm that Vilma was indeed presented an affidavit from Williams in which Williams states bluntly that Vilma put a $10,000 bounty on Favre. The story was first reported by ESPN.
Vilma continues to vehemently deny this fact and Vilma's camp questions the motives of Williams. Nonetheless, the statement from Williams is potentially damaging because it is Williams swearing under oath what he has previously just told the NFL's investigators.
Vilma was one of four Saints players suspended by Goodell. Those suspensions were temporarily overturned by an appeals panel. That panel specified that Goodell must clarify his decisions and that they were based solely on intent to injure and not salary cap violations.
"Today everyone was afforded an opportunity to start over," Vilma told reporters outside the NFL's offices. "It was in our best interest to meet today. We spoke truthfully, honestly, bluntly."
"We appreciate Jonathan Vilma taking the time to meet today and look forward to seeing the other players tomorrow," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
The other Saints players are still expected to meet with Goodell on Tuesday. One source close to the situation said as of late Monday night the league had not received any notices that the players were not planning to attend.
The likely scenario remains that Goodell will make a quick decision, maybe as soon as next week, and he will stick to his original suspension timetable. And this case would continue through the courts.
Things could change and today's more congenial (though at times argumentative) meeting is a hopeful step. But don't get your hopes too high.
Why? Later Monday night the congenial tone took a different turn when Vilma tweeted: "You obviously want me to be guilty if you cant see that gregg was bullied to sign the affidavit. He signed 3days ago!"
Vilma also tweeted: "The nfl has 1 affidavit saying i did it. I have NINE saying i didnt. Do the math. Hush haters."
And so it goes ...