The Denver Broncos will be without one of their starting safeties for the next four games. Kareem Jackson is set to miss the next four games for Denver after the NFL suspended him for his hit on Green Bay Packers tight end Luke Musgrave on Sunday.

NFL suspends Denver Broncos veteran safety Kareem Jackson for four games

The Denver Broncos will possibly be without Kareem Jackson, pending an appeal, for their four upcoming games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, and Cleveland Browns. On Monday, the NFL announced they were suspending Jackson after he was disqualified from Sunday’s game against Green Bay.

Per the NFL’s official press release:

“The NFL’s Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension for violations of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9 (b)(1), which states that “it is a foul if a player forcibly hits the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, even if the initial contact is lower than the player’s neck, and regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him.”​

Against Green Bay, Jackson was penalized and disqualified for an act of unnecessary roughness. In a letter to Jackson, Runyan wrote:

“On the play in question, you delivered a forceful blow to the head/neck area of a defenseless receiver, when you had the time and space to avoid such contact. You could have made contact with your opponent within the rules, yet you chose not to.”

The language used surrounding “when you had the time and space to avoid such contact,” should be Jackson’s best point of contention as he plans to appeal the league’s ruling. Runyan, a former offensive tackle, doesn’t possess the positional knowledge of being a defensive back, a position that plays with the most speed and physical contact in the game itself.

Sunday’s disqualification is the second time Jackson has been removed from a game this season. We all understand the importance of player safety, even Jackson himself, but a larger conversation needs to be had about the direction this game is going.

Jackson plays hard and has always been a physical player; as the rules have changed over the last four seasons, Jackson’s play style has become an easy target for an NFL that believes big hits need to be outlawed from the game.

Gone are the days where defensive players in the NFL have as much equal right to the football as offensive players.

In an era where many of us grew up watching players like Bob Sanders, Ed Reed, John Lynch, Troy Polamalu, Brian Dawkins, and the late great Sean Taylor physically impose their will across the middle of the field or in the flat, that time has passed.

Those players would be suspended for life in today’s NFL as the league seemingly transitions towards its desire to become flag football.

Jackson’s job as a defender is to prohibit offensive players from catching the football, and if they do catch it, his job is to dislodge it. The league has forgotten how fast this game is played and that inherent risks are always associated with a high-speed, contact sport.

Defensive players are vastly limited under today’s structure of league rules, and it could very well lead to the product changing to non-contact in the next ten years.

If Jackson’s suspension is upheld, P.J. Locke will step into the starting role for Denver opposite of Justin Simmons.