Much has been made about the severity and length of the players suspended over the New Orleans Saints' "Bounty Gate," but little has been discussed in the way of what the league actually had on each player. The National Football Post breaks down the specific "charges" the NFL levied against each player, which sheds some light on the reasoning for their punishments:
First, the biggest name in the scandal, linebacker Jonathan Vilma:
The NFL says Vilma "assisted Williams in establishing and funding the program. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Vilma offered a specific bounty -- $10,000 in cash – to any player who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game and later pledged the same amount to anyone who knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game."
Scott Fujita, a former Saint now playing for the Browns:
The league cites that Fujita, who has been suspended for three games, "pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 NFL Playoffs when he played for the Saints. The pool to which he pledged paid large cash rewards for "cart-offs" and "knockouts," plays during which an opposing player was injured."
Anthony Hargrove, also a former Saint:
...actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints" and "submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it." Per the league, Hargrive "actively obstructed" the investigation in 2010 by being untruthful.
Saints' defensive end Will Smith, whose four-game suspension is considered to be a bigger hit than Vilma's full season:
... is accused of assisting "Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the program during a period in which he was a captain and leader of the defensive unit. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Smith pledged significant sums to the program pool for "cart-offs" and "knockouts" of opposing players."
For more on the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, check out SB Nation's NFL page, The Falcoholic and Canal Street Chronicles.