David Evans' emotional and physical health issues aside there is no doubt James Hird's decision to leak a chunk of his Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority evidence in a bid to discredit the AFL precipitated the rushed departure of the popular Essendon chairman as well as impacting heavily on Evans' state of mind.
The game had become so dirty, the Hird camp so unpredictable and Evans so distraught that his family would have forced him to step aside had he not done so himself.
Beleaguered Bombers plot next move
David Evans is the latest casualty in the Essendon saga after exiting Saturday night, but coach James Hird is staying put for now.
Hird on the other hand is standing firm as the dominoes fall around him. Perhaps he still sees himself as Essendon's saviour.
Hird threw his chairman under a bus as well as targeting the AFL just weeks before the investigation into the club was at its end. His camp did not back off all weekend, implying to anyone who wanted to listen there was more to come.
Andrew Demetriou's deputy Gillon McLachlan has been mentioned by Hird's team as talking out of school about the Australian Crime Commission - a suggestion denied by all others at a crucial February meeting. And even commissioner Bill Kelty, who visited Hird at an early flashpoint of the crisis, has been thrown up as a Hird backer. Hird's people have implied Kelty's conversation with Hird that night was ''fascinating''.
Where it heads now is anyone's guess. What we described on Friday as ''Hird Inc'' more closely resembles ''cult Hird'' where his disciples' blind faith prevents them from seeing what sits so clearly in front of them. And it has been a strategy closely resembling the corporate governance at Essendon from late 2011 until late 2012 - scattergun and reckless.
Paul Little, who looks certain to assume the interim and probably longer-term chairmanship of the club at a specially convened board meeting on Monday, had become increasingly critical of Evans' strategy in working closely alongside the AFL.
Little, the long-time Toll Holdings chief executive, has money as well as his supporter's passion invested in Hird, having helped finance the coaching ''Dream Team'' that seems to have transformed into more of a nightmare.
He is a tough operator, litigious and determined to take on the AFL and media outlets that have crossed Essendon. He and Evans were diametrically opposed on that view. But if Hird emerges badly from the ASADA-AFL investigation Little will not protect him.
Evans and a small team of advisers had worked closely and united for five months towards a favourable outcome for the Essendon players but that focus has now clearly shifted to saving Hird. The club appears convinced the players
will not receive infraction notices and now saving Essendon and the senior coach appears one and the same. Certainly in Hird's mind.
In recent weeks the Bombers engaged the services of Queen's Counsel Jack Rush, a St Kilda director who was cleared by his club to represent Essendon as it faced sanctions from the AFL.
Essendon bombs on and off the field
Essendon's weekend started badly with a big loss to Hawthorn, and went downhill from there. Rohan Connolly and Jon Pierik review the weekend's AFL action.
Now it is unclear whether the Little regime will retain the entire team that worked with Evans although it is unlikely to shift now.
Hird supporters refuse to see that the senior coach oversaw the implementation of a drug program so dangerous and reckless players still remain in the dark about what they were given and the potential long-term effects.
Ditto the folly of Hird's decision to declare war on AFL chief Andrew Demetriou - the very same executive who will sit on the commission in judgment of him and his club next month - in a move that must have horrified and disenchanted Evans who was already under pressure from his board to distance himself from the AFL.
And all the while the Hird camp was subtly reporting that Evans had let Hird down when all the chairman was doing was working to save his players and unearth the truth of Windy Hill's experimental pharmacological program.
Hird's move was as transparent as it was hypocritical. The week before his team leaked his evidence to News Limited it released an inaccurate media statement slamming this columnist in which it said: ''James Hird has agreed not to disclose matters discussed at his interview until the completion of the investigation.
''Representatives from the club have requested all parties to the investigation to guarantee confidentiality and to afford natural justice. Breaching this confidentiality directly undermines the trust in the process and selective disclosure of information relating to the investigation appears to be deliberately threatening the integrity of this process.''
The following week after Hird breached that confidentiality by sanctioning the leaking of his own evidence, divisions at board level were revealed and the club took its time in issuing a statement supporting the chairman. It denied divisions and then two days later Evans resigned in a move that seems to have shattered the industry.
You have to wonder how Hird feels and whether he sees himself as having Evans' blood on his hands. He would not be alone in that view.