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NFL again slaps 4-game suspension on Broncos safety Kareem Jackson

Jackson was disciplined for a sixth time this season following hit on Vikings QB Josh Dobbs during game-opening series Sunday night. Jackson to appeal.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Once again, the NFL has issued a four-game suspension on Broncos safety Kareem Jackson, this time for what the league said was his helmet hit Sunday night on Vikings' quarterback Josh Dobbs during the game's opening series.

Per the league's statement, Jackson was disciplined this time "for repeated violations of playing rules intended to protect the health and safety of players, including during this Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings."

It's the second time that NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan hit Jackson with a four-game suspension. The first time, following the Broncos' win against Green Bay on Oct. 22, Jackson's suspension was reduced upon an appeal heard by Derrick Brooks.

Jackson will again appeal his latest suspension. Runyan wrote in a letter Monday to Jackson: 

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.

Jackson was not penalized on the play. The Broncos wound up rallying to beat the Vikings, 21-20 at Empower Field at Mile High. Sean Payton, the Broncos' head coach, was aware Monday morning of the NFL's review of Jackson's hit on Dobbs but had not yet heard of the ruling.

"I've talked to Kareem already this morning and there's nothing you can do except wait and see where it goes,'' Payton said in his day-after-game Zoom press conference Monday.

On a third-and-1 play, the Vikings tried some deception as Dobbs backed up to tailback while tight end T.J. Hockenson shifted to under center for the snap. Hockenson took the ball, moved left then pitched to Dobbs, who was clobbered by Jackson.

Jackson, 35, was not penalized but the league said he used his helmet to deliver a forcible blow to Dobbs around the upper shoulder pad area. Simultaneously, Dobbs had the ball stripped away by Broncos' outside linebacker Baron Browning for a fumble that was recovered by Denver nickelback Ja'Quan McMillian.

Working against Jackson with his latest infraction was his five prior offenses. He was fined on four different unnecessary roughness penalties this season totaling $89,670 (a source told 9NEWS a portion of each fine was reduced upon appeal). Jackson was also ejected from two games and a fifth offense drew a four-game suspension that was reduced upon appeal to two games, which cost Jackson two game checks totaling $279,444.

Jackson had just been reinstated from his suspension when he delivered his blow to Dobbs. If the current suspension holds, Jackson would lose an additional $558,889 in pay.

The safety who started in Jackson's place for two games, P.J. Locke, missed the game Sunday night against the Vikings because of a left ankle injury. Dellarin Turner-Yell is the Broncos' other backup safety who has started two games this season. 

Jackson in 2010 was a first-round draft pick as a cornerback of the Houston Texans, where he played 9 seasons. He made the full-time switch to safety starting with the Broncos in 2019. This is his fifth season with the Broncos.

Small by safety standards at 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, Jackson's tackling style is not to wrap his arms around the opposing ball carrier or receiver but to unload his body while leading with a shoulder pad.

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson runs as Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson defends during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.


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