In a heavy blow to the Denver Broncos, safety Kareem Jackson has been suspended by the NFL for four games due to multiple violations of unnecessary roughness rules. However, Jackson is not taking this punishment lying down as he appeals the decision. Sources have revealed that if the suspension is upheld, Jackson will lose a staggering $558,889 in salary.
Jackson’s ejection from Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers marked the second time this season that he has been removed from a game due to an illegal hit. Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan criticized Jackson’s actions in a letter, stating that he had “delivered a forceful blow to the head/neck area of a defenseless receiver” when he had the opportunity to avoid such contact. It seems that Jackson’s disregard for player safety has not gone unnoticed.
Prior to his suspension, Jackson had already accumulated four fines for unnecessary roughness in the current season, amounting to a total of $89,670. His repeated offenses have put him in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In Week 2, he was ejected from a match against the Washington Commanders after a collision with tight end Logan Thomas. The ensuing suspension would force Jackson to sit out games against formidable opponents such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, and Cleveland Browns.
During the recent game against the Packers, Jackson made a powerful hit on Packers tight end Luke Musgrave, resulting in an ejection and a 15-yard penalty. Despite the flags and the officials’ discussions, some Broncos players argued that Jackson’s hit was not as egregious as it seemed, claiming that he had led with his shoulder and made contact slightly below the head and neck area. However, the passionate reactions from Green Bay players and coaches intensified the debate surrounding the incident.
The Defense of Kareem Jackson
Broncos coach Sean Payton came to Jackson’s defense, expressing belief in the player’s character and intentions. Payton argued that Jackson’s head was not involved in the forceful contact and emphasized that the concept of a defenseless player should be examined in more detail. Payton acknowledged the complexities faced by officials, players, and everyone involved in ensuring player safety. He emphasized the need for a clearer and more uncomplicated approach to tackling these issues, acknowledging that sometimes the solutions are not obvious.
The NFL’s decision to suspend Jackson for four games echoes the severe consequences handed down in 2019 to players who violated player-safety rules. Myles Garrett, the defensive end for the Cleveland Browns, was infamously suspended indefinitely for using the Steelers’ Mason Rudolph’s helmet as a weapon. Although Garrett would ultimately miss six games, his actions had far-reaching repercussions. In the same year, Vontaze Burfict of the Raiders received a 12-game suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle. The NFL, aiming to deter future infractions, justified the severity of these punishments by pointing to repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules.
For Kareem Jackson, this suspension represents a significant setback in his career. With his appeal pending, the outcome remains uncertain. Jackson’s continuous pattern of illegal hits jeopardizes both his personal success and the Broncos’ performance as a team. It is crucial for Jackson to take this time to reflect on his actions and evaluate the consequences they have on himself, his fellow players, and the game as a whole. Only by embracing a commitment to player safety can Jackson hope to redeem himself and move forward in his football journey.