At a base level, this is surprising. The league has essentially come down on those involved in a pay-for-performance scheme that rewarded players for threatening the livelihood of contemporaries. Why would any player be upset about punishments designed -- at least indirectly -- to make the game safer?
The answer likely goes back to the NFL brotherhood. To players, Jonathan Vilma isn't seen as a monster with the "bounty" checkbook. He's a 30-year-old three-time Pro Bowler whose career was just taken out of his hands by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Here's a sample of what players are saying:
I wish I could say what I want to say right now, but I know that all eyes are on us right now. I'll just say it sucks, but we'll be fine!- Lance Moore (@LanceMoore16) May 2, 2012
Man these Suspensions are outrageous! I'm honestly speechless about how all of this has played out. Something needs to be done about this!!- Reggie Bush (@reggie_bush) May 2, 2012
I do not agree on what HE has done to those players on the Saints. It is not right.. Smh Vilma for the year?? Not right- Le'Ron McClain (@LeRon_McClain33) May 2, 2012
This is beyond ridiculous! I want to see the evidence and hear an explanation. Its sad when u have to hear about it on tv. Ridiculous!- Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) May 2, 2012
Damien Woody Conceding complete autonomy on discipline to the Commish might be the biggest snafu to the players in the new CBA- Damien Woody (@damienwoody) May 2, 2012
I am just blown away by the decision to suspend Vilma for an entire year. All I can say is WOW!! I hope the @NFLPA @DeSmithNFLPA fight this!- David Akers (@DavidAkers2) May 2, 2012
Ridiculous, and nobody really sees why the punishments have been so severe over the past 3 4years! Lawsuits and 18 games???- James Harrison (@jharrison9292) May 2, 2012
I feel for u J.Vilma! Goodell not the entire season! We only get a average of 3years to play and u have taken a entire season from a man.- Derrick Mason (@deemason85) May 2, 2012