Safety Damontae Kazee of the Atlanta Falcons was fined $10,026 by the NFL on Friday for his hit on quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers in last Sunday's game.
Kazee, who was ejected from the game, has apologized to Newton. He could have been suspended by the NFL, which would have meant his fine would have been one game check, $32,647.
"I was playing too fast in the game and trying to make a play and overplayed it," Kazee said, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I apologize for him and for hitting him like that, but I didn't do it on purpose. I was just trying to make a play, that's all.
"I have to learn when to take my shot and not take my shot. When he was sliding, I was already in the air. I tried to lean over to the left and nicked him with my facemask. I apologized for the hit and everything. ...
"I'm trying to learn to keep my head up when I'm tackling now. It's a new rule. I have to adjust to that."
Newton had gone into a slide after running for a first down on a fourth-down play when Kazee hit him helmet-to-helmet.
Said Newton: "He's playing as hard as he can, I'm playing as hard as I can. That's what this football game brings. At the end of the day, it's football. I ain't gonna cry, I ain't gonna have no ill will towards him. It is what it is."
Kazee, who was drafted in the fifth round (149th overall) out of San Diego State by the Falcons last year, was flagged for a hit on wide receiver Marqise Lee of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a preseason game last month, but was not fined.