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Donovin Darius fined, admonished but not suspended for hit on Packers'

NEW YORK (AP) _ 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 was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Ferguson said in an interview with Houston television station KRIV that he thought the league took the appropriate action in imposing the fine.

I think the league definitely had to step up and do something in that situation,'' Ferguson said.That's a tackle that's been outlawed for awhile.''

Ferguson said he didn't think Darius meant to hurt him.

``It was definitely an illegal hit but I don't think he did it on purpose, though.''

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.''

Ferguson said he was pleased Darius called him and he accepted Darius' apology.

He's not a dirty player at all. He's just an aggressive player,'' Ferguson said.He showed his character by calling me. He didn't have to do that.''

Ferguson said he didn't know when he would be able to play again.

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.''

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