Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/26/12

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 08: Chris Hope #24 of the Tennessee Titans runs after an interception against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL game on November 8, 2009 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. Falcons safety Chris Hope said on Wednesday that he will appeal the 30,000 fine that the NFL levied against him for an unnecessary roughness foul he received on Dec. 16 against the New York Giants Victor Cruz. Oh, yeah, Hope said of his decision to appeal. Im not looking into it right now. Pure focus is on finishing the season strong and making sure we get the big goal. Whether it was 2,500, I wouldve appealed. The Falcons (13-2) already have clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs going into Sundays season finale at the Georgia Dome against Tampa Bay (6-9), which has been eliminated from postseason play. In his first season in Atlanta, Hope has started the last three games with regular starter William Moore out with a hamstring injury. Cruz was running a deep post pattern when Hope came all the way across the field and made helmet-to-helmet contact in a violent collision. The hit appeared to be a textbook example of the kind of play that the league wants to eliminate but it also is the kind of hit that was legal for most of Hopes 11 seasons. Last week before receiving the fine, Hope, 32, acknowledged the difficulty in changing a style of play that is long ingrained. Even growing up as a kid, wanting to be like Ronnie Lott and Steve Atwater, John Lynch -- some of the guys that made our position so fun to play, you know -- you pattern your game after and you get patted on the back for being a big hitter, Hope said. You normally get talked about when you get out of a guys way, so its something youve been instilled in since youve been a kid and once I got into the league it was still that way and maybe a couple years ago thats when they really started hammering down on the hits like that. But its almost like youre already programmed, so, again, Ive been fortunate enough to not be in that situation for the past three or four years. Hope left that Dec. 16 game with a head injury but later returned. He said previously that the injury was not a result of that collision. Falcons head coach Mike Smith has said earlier this season when another defensive back, Dunta Robinson, missed a few plays in a game after initiating helmet-to-helmet contact that he wants his defensive players to hit their opponents in a strike zone similar to that in baseball: from above the knees to the chest. Hope said last week that he is not a dirty player, but seemed resigned to the fact that the game and the way it is officiated has changed. I havent got fined for anything like that, he said, but I know the rules are the rules and just been fortunate never to have been put in that situation for a while. Just was a natural reaction. I apologized to Cruz during the game. But there was no bad blood.
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