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Warren fined $35,000

NEW YORK, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The NFL Thursday fined Cleveland Browns rookie defensive tackle Gerard Warren $35,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell in last Sunday's game.

The incident occurred when Browns defensive lineman Orpheus Roye intercepted a shovel pass on Jacksonville's first play from scrimmage. Warren turned to block, took several steps to Brunell and leveled him with a high hit as the players' helmets collided.

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Brunell suffered a concussion on the play and did not return. Afterwards, Brunell called it "a dirty hit."

Warren, the third overall pick in the 2001 draft, was not penalized on the play and denied any intent to injure Brunell.

NFL Director of Football Operations Gene Washington, who administers discipline for player-against-player violations, said in a letter to Warren that his hit on Brunell was a, "violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 11 (7) which states that a passer 'must not be unnecessarily contacted by the defense...in the event of a change of possession on the play, until the passer assumes a distinctly defensive position.'"

Browns president Carmen Policy issed the following statement Thursday on Warren's fine:

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"We understand the message the league is trying to send and the goal that the commissioner is seeking to accomplish. We are in favor of any rule that preserves the health of the quarterbacks in this league and will wholeheartedly adopt any instructions that are provided to us by league officials.

"We are certain that Gerard Warren had no intention to injure or maliciously engage in a hit directed at any Jaguars player. He indicated to our coaching staff that he was not aware of the fact that Mark Brunell was the player involved in the contact until after the play was completed. The heat of the moment coupled with the confusion created by a dramatic turnover resulted in everyone on the field responding in a manner controlled more by instinct than by intent."

Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said he thought Warren should have been suspended.

"I'm disappointed," Weaver said. "I thought it clearly should have been a suspension, but I'm pleased the league thought the severity of the violation warranted a stiff fine. I thought $35,000 was an appropriate fine."

Three members of the Jaguars were also fined for separate incidents in Sunday's game.

Linebacker Kevin Hardy was fined $10,000 for stepping on the hand of Browns quarterback Tim Couch and receiver Sean Dawkins and tight end Damon Jones were each slapped with $5,000 fines for taunting incidents.

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