"I really, really hate the fact that I got fined $50,000. I don't care how much money you make, that's a ton of money," said Sims, who will make $1.8 million this season. "Let's just make that clear. I might be smiling, but in the back of my mind, I'm really hissed off about it."
Sims said he and his agent will appeal the fine.
That's what they did when Sims was fined each of the past two seasons with the Lions, as he burnished his reputation as a teeth-rattler. Those incidents also made him what the league deems a repeat offender.
When the league announced its crackdown last month, it even sent players with histories like Sims' a letter warning them that they would be viewed differently than players with cleaner backgrounds.
Sims acknowledged receipt of one of those letters. He understands the league might have been looking for a player with his reputation to set a further example.
"A guy like me, they probably were looking at in particular, to see if we were going to have a hit like that," Sims said.
NFC spokesman Randall Liu explained in an e-mail to the Daily News that the $50,000 fine was that high because the action took place away from the play; because Sims delivered the hit high, with his arm; and, yes, because of Sims' history.
Liu explained that it took the NFL several days to discover the play because Sims was not called for a penalty and it happened away from the ball. The league discovered the hit in its routine late-week film review in which it grades officials.
Sims believes another such incident will result in a suspension. Liu clarified that Sims' letter stated that "Further offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension."
There is no set formula, Liu said, which seems clear considering the case of Steelers hitman James Harrison.
Harrison famously considered retirement in protest after he was issued a $75,000 fine for a late hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi on Oct. 17.
Harrison did not retire . . . and was banged with a $20,000 fine for a late hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Sunday. It was Harrison's third fine this season.
Harrison was not suspended.
Sims was involved in another incident against the Titans that sparked discussion, when he arrived a bit late to a Chris Johnson running play and slammed Johnson high, near the sideline. He was neither penalized nor fined for that play.
So, having lived those two incidents against the Titans, is it clear to Sims what is legal and what is not?
"Naw," he said.
Neither, it seems, is it clear to his boss.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott described the Hawkins play as "bang-bang," and said his initial message to his defense following the league's warning remains the same: "Stay aggressive."
McDermott has not spoken with Sims about the hit.
While Sims said that he initially expected a fine for the Hawkins hit, as the days passed he relaxed when he did not receive the ominous FedEx envelope in which Anderson usually notifies his victims. Then, on Wednesday - a week after he expected it - there it was, bigger than he had imagined.
Sims had hoped the NFL saw the hit the way he saw it.
"On that play, I was actually looking at the quarterback. I did not see any receiver by me. When I turned my head around, I saw the receiver right there. I took the initiative to go ahead and take him out," Sims said. "In their eyes, I was hitting a defenseless receiver. In my eyes, I felt like I was making a play."
Of course, whether or not Hawkins was the intended receiver probably made little difference, Sims admitted.
"If he was the intended receiver, I definitely think I would get the same thing. I would try to take him out. I believe the fine would have been more," Sims said. "And it would've probably [drawn] a flag."
The $50,000 and, moreso, the possibility of a suspension, might affect how Sims plays, he admitted.
"Now that I have gotten fined, it's definitely going to be in the back of my mind. It's definitely not going to affect my technique, and my effort, and my intensity on the football field," Sims said. "But I don't want my team to be jeopardized.''
His team doesn't want that, either. The feeling around the league is that when this sort of discipline comes down, the entire team is tainted by association.
"Seeing it happen to one of your teammates, it makes it more of a reality," said linebacker Moise Fokou. "Yeah, we've got a couple of dogs on this team - aggressive guys. It might mean they are looking at us hard. I'll have to be careful out there."
No one should have to be extra careful, said Eagles safety Quintin Mikell. He believes Sims should be rewarded for reticence, not cast as a headhunter.
"It's really frustrating," said Mikell. "I saw the play live and on tape. I didn't think it was bad. I think 50 grand was really excessive for that. Nobody got injured. It wasn't close to damaging anybody. He could've really hurt the guy, but he didn't."
Mikell said he believes the NFL's real agenda centers on keeping skill players healthy, especially as the NFL considers replacing two preseason games with two regular-season games.
"I feel now, they're cracking down on it because they're thinking about adding these two games to the season," Mikell said. "You can't let a guy catch the ball in front of you. If I'm a quarterback, if I know the receiver is protected like that, I'm going to just loft the ball up."
Mikell issued the regular defenders' cry about dirty play away from the ball, especially by offensive linemen, which often goes unaddressed, but he knows the rules in question are meant to keep players like twice-concussed teammate DeSean Jackson on the field.
"I'll tell you this," Mikell said. "I'm not going to worry about a fine. I'm not going to play dirty, but I'm going to play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
Sims and Mikell both called on the NFL Players Association to better defend the players, but both realize that the toothless union can do nothing.
"The NFL Players Union should fight for us. The amount is outrageous," Sims said. He sighed. "This is the league I play in."
For now, it is.
Sims, a smallish linebacker who really is a smidge less than his listed 6-feet and maybe lighter than his listed 230 pounds, figures that softer play might spell the end of his days in the NFL.
"I feel like I have to make my presence felt on the field," Sims said. "People know me by now. Trying to hit as hard as I can. That's the type of player I am. I'm aggressive. I like hitting.''
"It's fun, to me."