Eagles LB Sims plans to appeal 'outrageous' $50K fine

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Ernie Sims on Thursday called his $50,000 fine by the NFL "outrageous," and said he planned to appeal.

Sims, a five-year veteran, was docked Wednesday for a hit on Tennessee wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins during the second quarter of the Eagles' 37-19 loss to the Titans on Oct. 24. According to a league statement, Sims was guilty of "unnecessarily striking a defenseless receiver in the neck and head area with his forearms."

"I really, really hate the fact that I got fined $50,000," Sims said. "I don't care how much money you make, that's a ton of money, money I worked hard for my whole life. Just for anybody to take it away from me for something that I do on the field, I just think it's crazy. But this is the league that I play in and I've got to respect that, so I'm just going to go out there and keep playing football."

Sims' hit on Hawkins came away from the play. Sims recalled that he was looking at Titans quarterback Kerry Collins, and did not see Hawkins behind him until Collins was about to throw the ball. And when Sims did see the receiver, he said, "I just took the initiative to go ahead and take him out. In their eyes, I was hitting a defenseless receiver. In my eyes, I felt like I was making a play."

Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott called it "a bang-bang play."

"We respect everything that comes down from the league, obviously," McDermott said. "That said, I want our players aggressive. Is there a fine line there between aggressive and not being a smart player? Yes. We've got to make sure we find that fine line so that we don't hurt the team."

McDermott passed that message along to the defense as a whole when the NFL first announced tighter guidelines for hard hits, after some particularly violent plays Oct. 17. One of them saw Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson fined $50,000 for leveling Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, a hit that left both players with a concussion.

Jackson missed the game against Tennessee, and the Eagles (4-3) had a bye last week. He hopes to return this Sunday, when they play host to Indianapolis (5-2).

Sims said he "kind of expected" he was going to get fined for another hit he made during the Tennessee game, on running back Chris Johnson, though he believes that was a clean hit. He was not penalized for that one, nor the one on Hawkins. None of the Titans said anything to him, either.

"They were probably afraid I was going to hit them, too," he said with a laugh.

Sims thought he might have been in the clear when he didn't hear anything about being penalized during the bye week. But he was notified by mail Wednesday of his fine.

Sims was fined for unnecessary roughness in 2008 and 2009, while playing for the Detroit Lions. He also said he received a letter of warning from the league, since he was a repeat offender.

He said the league is "probably" making an example of him, but he does not plan to change the way he plays.

"People know me by now," he said. "I've been playing this way a long time -- just throwing myself around and trying to hit as hard as I can. That's just the type of player I am -- aggressive. I like hitting. It's fun to me. That's just the way I play football."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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