Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed won an appeal on Tuesday against a one-game suspension for a dangerous hit on a defenseless opponent.
After initially being slapped with a one game ban and the loss of a week's pay, about $400,000, Reed won a submission clearing him to play.
The NFL appeals board overturned the original penalty and instead fined Reed $50,000, despite an NFL pledge to crackdown on player safety breaches.
"I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline," hearing officer Ted Cottrell wrote to Reed.
"However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay.
"Player safety is the league's primary concern in the formation of playing rules and all players are expected to adhere to those rules or face disciplinary action. I hope in the future you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules."
Reed was penalized for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he hit defenseless receiver Emmanuel Sanders around the head and neck area.
It was Reed's third violation in the past three seasons, prompting the NFL to impose the suspension and issue a strongly-worded statement.
"We cannot tolerate repeated violations of rules, especially rules related to player safety," NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said.
"We will continue to take the strongest possible action to deter these types of violations and protect our players."
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Julian Linden)