CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The NFL fined Carolina defensive end Al Wallace $7,500 Friday for his fourth-quarter hit on Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms.

Simms underwent surgery to remove a ruptured spleen after the game last Sunday. It’s unclear what hit caused the injury, but Simms had complained of soreness and shortness of breath before Wallace’s hit, which was not penalized.

Still, Wallace was fined for unnecessary roughness on the play. He hit Simms shortly after he threw a pass and landed on top of him. Wallace claimed he didn’t know Simms had released the ball.

The NFL said Wallace violated a rule that says players cannot “unnecessarily or violently throw a (quarterback) down and land on top of him with all the defender’s weight.”

Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden said he felt Wallace should have been called for roughing the passer.

Wallace told reporters he was concerned when he learned Simms had been rushed to the hospital after the game.

“I was kind of physically sick,” Wallace said. “I think anybody that knows my personality, none of us want to go out there and do any damage to anybody. A lot of guys believe it not, are a lot different off the field and I’d like to believe that I’m a compassionate guy. I don’t want to jeopardize anybody’s health that way.”

Simms, was taken out of intensive care on Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery. Gruden did not rule out Simms returning to play this season.

AP-ES-09-29-06 1635EDT


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