Julius Peppers, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, B.J. Raji in sideline altercation
The Green Bay Packers’ defense was already frustrated with its play. On Sunday, several players became frustrated with one another as well during a 37-29 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
And while the players involved — linebacker Julius Peppers, nose tackle B.J. Raji and safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett — downplayed the incident afterward, it’s the last thing a unit that has allowed 1,475 yards in the past three games needs.
“Sometimes it’s an emotional game, sometimes things are said, things are done. But ultimately we’re a family, and we stick together,” Raji said. “We’ll discuss it and move forward. It’s an in-house thing, it’s a family issue and we’ll take care of it.”
During the fourth quarter, Fox Sports cameras captured Peppers and Clinton-Dix in an animated discussion on the bench. Raji came over to separate the two, then forcefully pushed Clinton-Dix back after it appeared Clinton-Dix said something that angered him.
“Just really emotional. I was talking to him and telling him to keep us going, keep us pumped up. That was it. Just a lot of emotions and a lot of things going on,” Clinton-Dix replied when asked what he was saying to Peppers.
Asked why Raji stepped in, Clinton-Dix replied, “You’ve got to take that up with B.J. I don’t know what’s wrong with B.J., but it was just a lot of emotions. … Sometimes it gets the best of us, but that got us turned up a little bit.”
At the time, Green Bay’s defense had surrendered 414 yards to the Panthers and the Packers were trailing 37-14.
“You want emotional guys on the team. That’s what we have. Sometimes, emotions flare. It happens,” Peppers said when told that the cameras captured the incident. “We were down 20 points, obviously. If you’re not frustrated and you’re not upset, then something’s wrong.”
Burnett then grabbed Clinton-Dix and led him away from the scene, while Raji was shown still gesturing and yelling.
“It was nothing big or anything like that. It was nothing to worry about,” Burnett said. “Just in the heat of battle, things like that can occur. It’s nothing to worry about. It’s just their competitive spirit. Whatever happens on the sideline, you can’t take it personal.”
Coach Mike McCarthy was unfazed by the incident.
“It doesn’t concern me,” McCarthy said. “It’s football. Things happen on the sidelines. It’s a product of us not playing to our standard. Sometimes things like that happen. I have no concerns.”