Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius was fined $75,000 by the NFL yesterday for a hit across the neck of Green Bay's Robert Ferguson that left the wide receiver temporarily paralyzed...

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Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius was fined $75,000 by the NFL yesterday 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.

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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 yesterday.

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.

Bates makes bid for Dolphins job

DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins interim coach Jim Bates wore a suit to work, dressed for success — and a big job interview — barely 12 hours after his team beat the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Bates met with owner Wayne Huizenga at the team complex, hoping to remain head coach next season.

“Believe me, I’ve got a sales pitch ready,” Bates said.

He remained a long shot for the job, with LSU coach Nick Saban the front-runner. The only other candidate to interview was former Oakland Raiders coach Art Shell on Monday.


• Oakland’s Charles Woodson and Marques Anderson returned to work and met with coach Norv Turner a day after their arrest for public intoxication. “It’s always a concern,” Turner said of suspect off-field behavior. “It’s an unfortunate situation, and we’re going to deal with it.” He didn’t elaborate on any disciplinary action the team will take.

Anderson practiced, but Woodson was held out with a knee injury and is doubtful for Saturday’s game at Kansas City.

League spokesman Steve Alic said the players could qualify for the NFL’s substance-abuse program, but only suspensions — and not fines — are made public. Woodson might already be part of the program because he has a previous offense.

• The Missouri Supreme Court rejected Leonard Little’s request to have a felony drunken-driving charge thrown out, declining comment on his claim that the law behind the count is unconstitutional.

Attorneys for the Rams defensive end argued that under Missouri law, a jury, not as a judge, should have decided whether Little is a persistent offender, given his previous conviction in a 1998 drunken-driving wreck that killed a woman.

The prosecutor, Mark Bishop, countered in legal filings that a St. Louis County judge and the Missouri Court of Appeals have rejected Little’s claims, and that Missouri’s high court should do the same.

• The Green Bay Packers promoted tight end Sean McHugh from their practice squad and waived linebacker Nick Rogers.

• The Chicago Bears put safety Cameron Worrell on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

• The Kansas City Chiefs released punter Steve Cheek and signed Nick Murphy, who played in three games for Baltimore this season.