Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson said he’s flying to New York to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday to get more clarity about his latest suspension and the way the league enforces its player safety rules.
“For me, I see a lot of the same things happening around the league where guys aren’t going through what I’m going through — no flags, no fines, no suspensions,” Jackson said Tuesday night in his first public comments since drawing his second suspension last week.
“I’m not really sure why I’m being treated the way I’m being treated. I’m making regular football plays, nothing malicious in my opinion,” Jackson said. “I just want to know why I’m the only person going through what I’m going through.”
Jackson, who’s in his 14th NFL season, has been suspended by the league for six games this season, ejected from two others and been fined $89,670 for four illegal hits.
That makes him the league’s leader in fines and game checks lost. He’s missed three games so far and will miss three more, costing him a total of $837,000 in lost wages.
He drew his second suspension for a hit on Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs on his first tackle upon his return from his first suspension two weeks ago. Both times he was suspended for four games but his first one was cut in half on appeal.
Jackson said he wants to ask the commissioner for advice on avoiding future flags, fines and suspensions because he said he’s playing like he always has and doesn’t think he’s crossed the line. Previously, he’s said he knows he’s drawing extra scrutiny from the league for his spate of fouls.
The league has said he’s violating its unnecessary roughness rules by hitting with the crown of his helmet and launching at opponents, which the NFL contends he can avoid even in the heat of the moment.
Jackson counters that the league isn’t clear about how defenders should alter their play to avoid the kinds of hits that have gotten him in trouble.
“There’s no clarity, a lot of gray area,” Jackson said, noting that during his first suspension he got no answers from the league. “I asked them a ton of questions and told them I’ll be in the same situations, how am I supposed to play or how am I supposed to go about these situations?
“So, hopefully something comes from this meeting — I don’t think much will, because I don’t even think they know,” Jackson added. “At this point I feel like I’m the poster child for whatever they’re trying to get across or prove. So, we’ll see.”
Jackson sat out Denver’s games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills for a flagged hit of Packers tight end Luke Musgrave on Oct. 22 that led to his second ejection of the season.
His hit on Dobbs upon his return on Nov. 19 didn’t draw a flag, but it did draw the league’s ire again and resulted in his second suspension.
This time, his appeal was denied, so he began this suspension last Sunday when the Broncos beat the Browns 29-12, and he’ll miss games against the Texans, Chargers and Lions before he’s allowed to return for Denver’s game against New England on Christmas Eve.
On Sunday, Denver’s defensive backs wore “Free KJack” T-shirts during warmups.
The Broncos (6-5) have won five consecutive games, tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the league’s longest active winning streak, to jump into the playoff conversation.
Jackson isn’t allowed to go to the team’s headquarters during his suspension, something he also intends to raise with Goodell.
“It’s extremely hard” being banned from team facilities, Jackson said. “The guys are playing great. Obviously, for me I just want to be a part of it, be there with the guys. And that’s another thing — not being able to be in the building. For the league to advocate for mental health but you know to cut a guy off from everything? You can’t come into the building. You can’t cold tub and all that kind of stuff in the building.
“I mean, you can’t tell me that you care about the guys and then you cut them off. What if I don’t have a support system, you know? So, it’s a lot of things they’re saying and doing that’s contradictory in my opinion. So, hopefully I can get some clarity.”
Jackson made his comments to reporters from The Associated Press and a few other outlets as he arrived at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver to attend teammate Patrick Surtain II’s “Inspire the Dream Gala” benefiting disadvantaged youth.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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