The "coach run bounty program" is the aspect of this that all the apologists are forgetting about... I'm sure lots of teams over the years PLAYERS have had some sort of incentive system between themselves... The Saints* had a coach organized and run system AND obfuscated and lied to the NFL about it... HUGE difference.
That's it really. It wasn't that players don't organize bets or bounties, it is that the organization shouldn't condone it participate and fund it. Secondly when told to stop by the commissioner, they should have done so. Lastly when they continued to do it, they then lied to the commissioner's office about their involvement and tried to cover it up.