Clinton-Dix: Sean Taylor 'one of the best to ever play this game'

Chris Lingebach
October 31, 2018 - 4:21 pm
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Newly acquired safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix should be about as seamless a personality fit as the Redskins could find at the trade deadline.

After being traded from Green Bay on Tuesday, the 25-year-old becomes the fifth Alabama alum on the Redskins defense, joining Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Ryan Anderson and Shaun Dion Hamilton. He's also reuniting with his offseason workout partner, fellow Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger. Oh, and the late Sean Taylor was his favorite player growing up.

"He's one of the best to ever play this game," Clinton-Dix said of Taylor in front of reporters at Redskins Park on Wednesday. "And that's not just for the money, but because of love of the game."

"He's a leader. He didn't talk much, but he led by example and he set great examples," he said. "So that's someone you want to admire, somebody you want to look up to and someone you want to feed off of. There's no way I can be Sean Taylor, but he's a guy that I look up to and I model my game after him."

Clinton-Dix was asked if Taylor was his inspiration for wearing No. 21, and what it's like to now be playing for his former team.

"It's a blessing. Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I'm excited to be here. I'm a man of God and one thing that always came to me was be ready for change. Change is here. I'm accepting it. I'm accepting my role here on this team and I'm ready to play ball. I'm so excited to be here. You guys don't even understand. You'll see."

As for the shock of being traded, Clinton-Dix found out only a few minutes before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline, and he sounds motivated for his new opportunity.

"It happened at about 3:58," he said. "I got a call from (Packers GM) Brian Gutekunst down in Green Bay and he told me I'd just been traded to Washington. My emotions were super high. I gave Green Bay my all and I'm excited about a new start. I'm at a place where I love. I love Sean Taylor. I love this game.

"I played here a few weeks ago, man, and my eyes always light up every time I play here. I'm happy to be a part of this organization and I'm ready to keep things going, and that's onto the next 'W,' and that's Atlanta."

"I played the cards I was dealt," he went on to say. "The Redskins took a chance on me. I'm telling you, man. I'm so excited to be here. I'm just going to continue playing the cards that are dealt to me and I'm excited to be here."

Swearinger and Clinton-Dix, the two highest-rated safeties in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, worked out together in Miami this offseason. Clinton-Dix described himself and Swearinger as "two men who love this game, who play for their families, who play for their fans, who play for their coaches, who play for their teammates."

"It was all balls-to-the-walls this offseason and we had fun doing it," he said. "Like I said, when you're competing with a guy that loves the game as much as you do, you can never get bored in this league."

As for how they'll pair together on the field, Clinton-Dix pointed to the moment after his Week 3 interception against the Redskins at FedEx Field, a game Washington won 31-17.

"Well, if you watch when we played them Week 3, I caught an interception," he said. "I went to the sideline and dapped him up."

"I'm real close with him," he continued. "I watch a lot of his games. I study his tape. I love the way he plays the game. I'm excited to be back there with him. There's a lot I can learn from. A lot of Bama guys out here too as well. I'm ready to get in and contribute any way I can and then help this team win."

After completing his first workout with the Redskins, Clinton-Dix said, "It's way different than it was in Green Bay. Guys are juiced up in here. The strength and conditioning coaches, they're juiced up. I'm very proud to be a part of something special."

Some fans bristled at the notion of trading a fourth-round pick in 2019 for a rental. Clinton-Dix, with the Packers picking up his fifth-year player option, is on the final year of his rookie contract. But if all goes right, Washington will have the first crack at re-signing him. Otherwise, they'll get a compensation pick – likely close to a fourth-rounder, but in 2020 instead of 2019 – if he goes elsewhere in free agency. 

In return they also get a player who's highly motivated to make an immediate impact.

"Check this out. I got practice in about an hour," Clinton-Dix told reporters. "I came here to play. I came here to work. And even if that's on special teams, just helping contribute to this team any way I can, the No. 20's going to be suited up this weekend, and you can bet that."

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