Did you catch Ha Ha Clinton-Dix's political statement in Saturday's game?
As social activism and sports have increasingly collided and intermingled – and in the wake of the recent violent protests in Charlottesville, with polarizing former 49ers quarterback remaining unsigned and NFL players speaking out against racial inequality – all eyes were on vocal Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, who many thought might sit or kneel during the national anthem before Green Bay's preseason win at Washington.
Bennett didn't object – he did catch a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers – but he later posted a cartoon he drew on his Instagram account, expressing his views on football players' ostensible freedom to promote commercial products versus political opinions.
Almost unnoticed in the game Saturday night, however, was Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – who has been outspoken in the past about issues of racial injustice and police brutality – making a statement of support for four slain police officers. A picture Clinton-Dix posted on Twitter showed he had written on his cleats the names or nicknames – in hashtag form – of Sgt. Sam Howard, Officer Matthew Baxter, Sgt. Debra Clayton and Deputy Norman Lewis.
Howard and Baxter, both of the Kissimmee, Fla., police department, were shot and killed Aug. 18; Clayton, who was from the Orlando Police Department, was shot and killed last December; and Lewis, a former college football player and an Orange County Sheriff's Deputy, was killed in a traffic crash looking for the suspect in Clayton's death. All four were law enforcement members from near the Orlando area in which Clinton-Dix grew up.
The 24-year-old, who was Green Bay's first-round draft pick in 2014, was a criminal justice major at Alabama, where he's continued to work toward his degree during the offseason.
Entering his fourth NFL season, Clinton-Dix was a Pro Bowler for the first time in 2016 and also named Second-Team All-Pro. In May, the Packers picked up the fifth-year option on Clinton-Dix's contract.
Clinton-Dix has not shied away from expressing his personal social and political views. Last year, there were rumors that one of the reasons Green Bay released former Pro Bowl offensive guard Josh Sitton was because he and Clinton-Dix had gotten into a locker-room confrontation that turned racial. Last week, the fourth-year safety got involved in a Twitter argument between Bennett and former Packer Jermichael Finley, taking his teammate's side about NFL players taking political stands.
Last week, when asked about the issue of protesting the national anthem, typically understated general manager Ted Thompson said: "I view this as something that you're asking me from a personal standpoint – not what I would do but what I would feel about a particular player if he made such and such action or if he failed to make such and such action. This is a free country, in my opinion, and free people can do what they like."
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