On the heels of the Denver Broncos' 21-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL has levied another four-game suspension on veteran safety Kareem Jackson, per 9NEWS' Mike Klis. The play in question came on Minnesota's opening possession when Jackson hit Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who was carrying the ball on a designed rushing play.
Dobbs fumbled, though Jackson wasn't credited with forcing it, and Broncos' cornerback Ja'Quan McMillian recovered it. Jackson was not penalized by the game's officiating crew.
Once again, NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan sent Jackson a letter to notify him of the suspension. Klis reported what Runyan wrote.
“With 13:38 remaining in the first quarter, you were involved in a play that the League considers a serious violation of the playing rules. The video of the play shows that you lowered your head and made forcible contact to Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs. You had an unobstructed path to your opponent and the illegal contact could have been avoided.
“Illegal acts that are flagrant and jeopardize the safety of players will not be tolerated. The League will continue to stress enforcement of the rules that prohibit using your helmet to make forcible contact with your opponent. On the play in question, you lowered your head and delivered a forceful blow to the shoulder and head/neck area of an opponent when you had time and space to avoid such contact. You could have made contact with your opponent within the rules, yet you chose not to."
The 35-year-old Jackson was handed a four-game suspension for a similar hit in Week 7. He appealed the suspension, and the NFL reduced it down to two games. Sunday night's game vs. Minnesota was Jackson's first game back.
Suffice to say, Jackson's Broncos teammates aren't happy with this at all. So much so that the young leaders on defense took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to sound off at the league front office.
"This is unbelievable. Dobbs on this play was playing running back," Broncos safety Justin Simmons wrote on X. "The TE was under center, snapped the ball and tossed it back to Dobbs who isn’t defenseless. On a 3rd and 1, where you’re fighting for every yard, how are we supposed to stop a runner from falling forward?"
This is unbelievable. Dobbs on this play was playing running back. The TE was under center, snapped the ball and tossed it back to Dobbs who isn’t defenseless. On a 3rd and 1, where you’re fighting for every yard, how are we supposed to stop a runner from falling forward? https://t.co/EEJJQGJVkm— Justin Simmons (@jsimms1119) November 20, 2023
Cornerback Patrick Surtain II joined Simmons in calling the NFL's decision to once again drop the hammer on Jackson.
"This league something else lmao ! How you supposed to play ball nowadays?"
This league something else lmao ! How you supposed to play ball nowadays ?— Patrick Surtain (@PatSurtainll) November 20, 2023
Although the Broncos have not commented publicly on the NFL's second suspension of Jackson, head coach Sean Payton addressed the possibility on Monday upon learning that the front office was reviewing the play.
“I talked to Kareem already this morning," Payton said. "There’s nothing you can do except wait, and we’ll see where it goes.”
It's a tough situation because football is supposed to be a physical game, but Jackson had been warned and then warned again (via fines) before being suspended the first time. He hasn't amended his style of play to accommodate the NFL's rules and follow the letter of the law, so to speak, relative to helmet-to-helmet contact and leading with the head.
Jackson did lead with the head on the play in question, and he did make helmet-to-helmet contact with Dobbs, who, again, is a quarterback — a position sacrosanct to the NFL. Jackson will appeal this four-game suspension, but something tells me the NFL won't be as obliging on cutting it down this time.
With the Cleveland Browns up next, the Broncos need P.J. Locke to get healthy in a hurry (ankle) because Delarrin Turner-Yell has proven he can't be trusted this season, and rookie JL Skinner is completely untested.
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