Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte was fined $21,000 by the NFL for making contact with the head of Carolina Panthers wide receiver in their game Oct. 28.
Conte, who is in his second year in the league and still on his rookie contract, thought the size of the fine meant it had to be one of his teammates playing a joke on him, but he quickly found out it was real.
"I didn't think it was real," Conte told ESPN Chicago. "I thought it was a prank. Then I realized it wasn't a prank very quickly. It hurts a lot."
Conte did draw a personal foul penalty on the play and, as Bears coach Lovie Smith told CBS Sports, league protocol in the current NFL landscape means that if a play is penalized for a blow to the head, usually a fine is forthcoming.
Conte has appealed the fine and hopes to get it reduced. Conte has 40 tackles and one interception this season.