Jackson, who was ejected from Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers early in the fourth quarter for a hit on tight end Luke Musgrave, was originally given a four-game suspension Monday that was reduced to two games Tuesday after an appeal hearing via Zoom with league officials and hearing officer Derrick Brooks. He has been fined four previous times this season for hits in games.
Sunday marked Jackson’s second ejection from a game this season.
Simmons said he and other players took exception to the league’s letter to Jackson notifying him of the suspension as well as the narrative that Jackson is a dirty player after the fines and ejections.
“Even referring to the letter that was sent to Kareem that, in so many words, called him a dirty player, that bothers me as a teammate,” Simmons said after Wednesday’s practice. “I would not be half the player I am if it wasn’t for Kareem, if it wasn’t for the knowledge he has bestowed upon me, both on and off the field.
Simmons added: “The whole ‘dirty player’ analogy we’re kind of trying to stick to his name and his reputation is, excuse my language, absolute bulls—.”
Jackson will be eligible to return to the Broncos’ active roster on Nov. 14, the day after the team’s game against the Buffalo Bills. Jackson will miss Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs as well as the game against the Bills; the Broncos have a bye in between those games, in Week 9.
He was ejected Sunday for his sideline hit on Musgrave in the fourth quarter.
“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,” vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote in a letter to Jackson. “You could have made contact with your opponent within the rules, yet you chose not to.”
Runyan noted that Jackson has had multiple instances of violations of player-safety rules.
Entering Sunday’s game, Jackson had been fined four times this season for unnecessary roughness for a total of $89,670. He was also ejected from a Week 2 loss to the Washington Commanders after a hit on tight end Logan Thomas.
Simmons, who has been alongside Jackson in the Broncos’ defense for all of Jackson’s five seasons with the team, said Jackson has never been “anything close to being a dirty player.”
“If anybody asked anybody he’s played with — [in] college, college coaches, defensive back coaches, teammates, even guys he’s played against — you’ll never find anywhere in the vocabulary in terms of describing him as a dirty player,” Simmons said. “Kareem is one of the best people I know. One of the best teammates I’ve ever had, and anything I am as a player has been because I’ve gotten a chance to learn and grow with Kareem.”
Simmons said he believed Jackson’s hit was “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Musgrave and that the league should add more “clarity” in how it hands out discipline for similar hits week to week.
“I love the fact we’re implementing things league-wide that are helping us, that are going to help us after our careers, stay healthy, be healthy and protect our brains, so I agree with [the rule] on the neck or head areas,” Simmons said. “I think when the hit is to your shoulder it doesn’t fall into that spectrum.”
Earlier this week, Broncos coach Sean Payton, who said Wednesday he participated in Jackson’s appeal hearing with the league Tuesday, said: “I know Kareem, I know his heart and I know the way he’s played. I think it’s an easy narrative to say, ‘Well, he’s just an old-timer playing in a new-timer’s game.’ When you see the play, his head is removed from the forcible contact. Defenseless is a little bit more of an issue relative to the position the receiver’s in.
“I just know where he’s at as a player. We’ll keep working on that. I know he’ll keep working on it. He’s someone that’s smart and really wants to do the right thing. It’s one of the toughest parts of our game for the officials, for the players, for all of us involved of getting that to where it’s clear and easy. Sometimes, it’s just not.”