Ha Ha and the Legacy of 21

21 collageBy Jon Meerdink

“When they gave me that number, I saw shocked. Charles Woodson is one of the best. I’m just honored.”

That’s how Ha Ha Clinton-Dix answered when he was asked what it’s like to wear number 21 for the Packers. It’s not too surprising for a guy from Alabama to have a proper respect for his forebears, but for some reason it’s really nice to hear Ha Ha appreciate the opportunity to sports a number that’s played such a big role in recent Packers history.

Woodson, of course, is the most accomplished player in Packers history to wear number 21. In exactly 100 regular season games with the Packers, Woodson recorded 38 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles, 11.5 sacks, and 10 defensive touchdowns to go along with a Defensive Player of the Year award and a Super Bowl ring. None to shabby, I’d say, and pretty good sized shoes for young Mr. Clinton-Dix to fill.

He’s hardly the only famous 21 in Packers’ history, though. Bob Jeter played 107 games at cornerback for the Green and Gold between 1963 and 1970, making All-Pro in 1967 thanks to his eight interceptions. He was also stellar in 1966, picking off five passes and returning two of them for touchdowns.

Craig Newsome had a short but interesting tenure wearing number 21, starting all 32 games at cornerback during the first two seasons of his career. He intercepted two passes during the 1996 regular season during the Packers’ march to Super Bowl XXXI, then he picked off one more in every game the Packers played in the playoffs as they locked up a Super Bowl win.

And then there’s John Hadl. Yes, that John Hadl, the balding fat man who was apparently worth a king’s ransom in draft picks. He came over midseason in 1974 and couldn’t wear the 21 he’d sported in Los Angeles  because it was occupied by defensive back Charlie Hall. But Hall switched to 44 in the off-season and Hadl was able to pick up his preferred number.

If nothing else, Clinton-Dix should be less of a disappointment than Hadl was.

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