NEW YORK -- Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius was fined $75,000 by the NFL on Tuesday for a hit across the neck of Green Bay's Robert Ferguson that
left the wide receiver temporarily paralyzed.
Darius, who was ejected from the game, wasn't suspended because league disciplinarian Gene Washington noted that this was the first time he had been
fined for a violation.
The hit came in the fourth quarter of Jacksonville's 28-25 win over the Packers.
Ferguson caught a pass over the middle, and Darius hit him across the helmet and neck with a forearm. Ferguson lay on the ground and was taken off the
field, regaining feeling in his legs later, after he was hospitalized. He remained in the hospital Sunday and Monday nights. ESPN.com's John Clayton
reports Ferguson was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon. He is officially listed as out for Friday's game against Minnesota with head and
Darius said in a statement that he spoke with Ferguson on Monday in the hospital.
"We had a good conversation in which he told me he has no hard feelings," Darius said. "We agreed that it was a part of the game. The most important
thing is that Robert is OK."
Darius, whose annual salary is more than $4 million a season, was ejected from the game by referee Ed Hochuli.
"You violently and unnecessarily struck your opponent in the neck and head area with your forearm," Washington said in his letter to Darius.
Packers quarterback Brett Favre said he expected a heavy fine.
"I don't know him personally. He seems like a good guy and it's an unfortunate hit," Favre said. "And his comments were he was going for the ball.
Maybe he was. Maybe his sole intention was to knock the ball out, but it just didn't seem like it.
"You'd hate to think that you'd ruin a guy's career, and Fergie, by all accounts, will come back from it. But mentally will he be the same? I don't
know," he said.
[Edited on 12/21/2004 by Gibbs Baby!!!]