Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt all visited NFL headquarters Thursday to appeal their suspensions, despite the release of an audio by Gregg Williams that might hurt their cases.
Payton, the New Orleans Saints' coach, arrived several hours after Loomis, the team's general manager, and Vitt, the assistant head coach, were heard by commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell suspended Payton for the season, Loomis for eight games and Vitt for six as punishment for the bounty system run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has been suspended indefinitely and did not appeal the decision.
Payton's appeal and those of Loomis and the Saints' franchise have been compromised by the 12-minute audio file available on the web site of documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who operates The United States of Football (theusof.com).
In the speech to his defense alleged to have taken place at the team hotel the night before the Saints lost to the 49ers in the divisional playoffs in January, the voice Pamphilon says is Williams can be heard imploring the team to deliver "remember me" hits to quarterback Alex Smith, target wide receiver Michael Crabtree's "outside ACL" and focus on smacking running back Frank Gore in the head. Perhaps the most unsettling instruction was to target recently concussed wide receiver Kyle Williams early in the game.
"We need to find out in the first two series of the game, the little wide receiver, No. 10 (Williams), about his concussion," in the audio clip alleged to be Williams. "We need to (expletive) put a lick on him, move him to decide. He needs to decide."
--- Pamphilon has written a statement on his blog explaining his decision to release audio of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams exhorting his Saints defenders to injure specific San Francisco 49ers in a playoff game last season.
Pamphilon, who was working on a documentary about Steve Gleason, the former Saints special-teams star suffering from ALS, said the truth needed to be told.
"If this story hadn't broken and been made public, I would not have shared this it (sic)," his blog reads. "I would not have compromised my personal relationships and risked damaging Steve Gleason's relationship with the Saints. I would have crafted these words and sentiments for another forum, perhaps years down the road.
"If it weren't for the fact I feel deeply that parents of children playing football MUST pay attention to the influence of men who will sacrifice their kids for W's, I would not have written this."
Pamphilon wrote that he would not have "written these truths" if Saints linebacker Scott Fujita had not been "publicly attached to this scandal" and had his reputation besmirched.
"Some will call me releasing this audio for fame or money grab," Pamphilon wrote. "True haters will call it exploitation. People of character and conscience call it was (sic) it is: tru."
Pamphilon released the full 12-minute audio clip of Williams' speech on his website (www.theusof.com) and alleges Williams delivered the speech at the team hotel near the San Francisco airport the night before their divisional playoff game in January.
---The Baltimore Ravens signed cornerback Lardarius Webb to a six-year deal, the team announced Thursday.
In his fourth NFL season, Webb became a restricted free agent after the 2011 season in which he led the Ravens with five interceptions.
The 26-year-old was a key part of Baltimore's pass defense, and helped the group allow the fewest passing touchdowns, at 11.
--The Indianapolis Colts signed free agent defensive tackle Brandon McKinney.
In his seventh season, the 6-foot-2, 345-pound McKinney was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers on May 8, 2006. He was released in October 2008 and quickly signed by the Baltimore Ravens.
"Brandon brings a welcomed amount of size, power and experience to our defensive line," Colts general Manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. "Interior players in his mold aren't easy to come by in the draft or in free agency for that matter. We felt he could fill a valuable role."
---Wide receiver Torry Holt signed a one-day contract with the St. Louis Rams, and retired Thursday as a member of that organization.
As a member of the Super Bowl XXXIV Champions, Holt said he wants to be remembered as a player who gave his all.
"I want my legacy to be a guy that respected the game of football, a guy that respected his teammates, his coaches, challenged guys on a day-to-day basis, whether I said something or didn't say anything, and just loved playing," Holt said. "This being a childhood dream of mine, how many of us can say that we're doing what we dreamed of doing?"
A seven-time Pro Bowler with St. Louis from 1999-2008, Holt set a league record with six consecutive seasons of at least 1,300 yards receiving. He finished his career in 2009 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
---Joe Avezzano, who won three Super Bowl rings as the Dallas Cowboys special teams coach, died Thursday at age 68.
Avezzano reportedly was on a treadmill in Italy when he suffered a heart attack. He had recently been named head coach of the Milano Seamen of the Italian Football League.
Avezzano worked for the Cowboys from 1990-2002. A three-time special teams coach of the year, Avezzano wasn't retained when Bill Parcells became head coach in 2003.
---Veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears, Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reported.
Hayden played six seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Atlanta Falcons last year. He played in eight games for the Falcons, with one start.
A second-round pick of the Colts in 2005, Hayden was a mainstay on their playoff teams. He has 11 interceptions in 85 games, including 47 starts.
---The Miami Dolphins announced Thursday that they have signed former Vikings safety Tyrell Johnson.
Johnson was a second-round pick by Minnesota in 2008 and played in 49 games for the Vikings.
He started in 2009 but struggled with injuries the past two years, ending up on injured reserve in 2010 and missing five games with a hamstring problem last season.
----Linebacker Bobby Carpenter has signed with the New England Patriots.
The former first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys spent last season with Detroit, where he started three games.
After spending his first four seasons in Dallas, Carpenter was traded to St. Louis for Alex Barron in May 2010. The Rams cut him before the 2010 season, he signed with Miami and played in five games before the Dolphins cut him, and the Lions picked him up to finish the season. He played in every game for the Lions last season, finishing with 29 tackles.
---Cincinnati Bengals free agent wide receiver Jerome Simpson was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three years probation by a judge in Kentucky.
In addition to the sentence, Simpson will serve three years probation, must pay a $7,500 fine, complete 200 hours community service and undergo regular drug testing.
Simpson pleaded guilty March 1 to a lesser felony and could have faced a longer sentence in accordance with the plea agreement after initially being indicated for marijuana trafficking, a felony.
Simpson, 26, also faces a suspension from the National Football League for violating its personal conduct policy.
Simpson admitted in court that he accepted a package of marijuana. In exchange, prosecutors amended the charge from one count of trafficking marijuana in excess of eight ounces to one count of prohibited acts relating to controlled substances.