2020 Cowboys free agency: Emotional Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 'can't wait' to reunite with Mike McCarthy in Dallas
It's a reunion in Dallas, and one that might pay off big for both sides
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, whose real name is Ha'Sean, is right where he wants to be going into the 2020 season. The veteran safety signed a deal this offseason in the second wave of NFL free agency that reunites him with Mike McCarthy, the newest head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and the guy who drafted Clinton-Dix into the Green Bay Packers organization with the 21st-overall pick in 2014. The contract is for only one year at $4 million max -- $2.5 million guaranteed -- but instantly gives the Cowboys a possible upgrade over the departed Jeff Heath, and provides Clinton-Dix possibly one final opportunity to prove he deserves a big NFL contract.
He is only 27 years old (and barely), after all, and his best season came under McCarthy's tutelage in 2016, when Clinton-Dix reeled in a career-best five interceptions to go along with 80 combined tackled and seven pass deflections. He'd earn a Pro Bowl nod for that effort, as well as a second-team All-Pro nod, only two seasons after being named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
The Orlando, Florida native and former University of Alabama star went on to reel in three more interceptions for the Packers and six pass break ups in 2017, but tension with the organization over lack of a long-term deal led to a divorce from McCarthy -- Clinton-Dix eventually being traded to the Washington Redskins in 2018 in exchange for a fourth-round pick. Unhappy in a struggling Washington outfit, he muddled through the worst season of his otherwise promising NFL career, but found a bit of resurgence in signing with the Chicago Bears last season and posting two interceptions, one defensive touchdown, five pass deflections and 78 combined tackles.
He now finds himself suiting up for a Cowboys team desperately in need of a talented safety to place next to Xavier Woods, and it's all still surreal for Clinton-Dix, who was raised in a family full of Cowboys fanatics -- .
"I remember getting my first Dallas Cowboys jacket when I was 8 years old," he said, via the Orlando Sentinel. "My dad got it for me for my birthday. My family has always been Dallas Cowboys fans. The world is full of Dallas Cowboys fans, so just being able to have the opportunity to play in Jerry's World, I'm so excited about it."
"I can't wait to put that star on my helmet. It hasn't even sunk in with me yet. It's still fresh."
Having played for the aforementioned three teams in his first six seasons, he would constantly chide his family for only (mostly) coming to see him play when the opposing team was the Cowboys -- obviously, not coincidentally -- but now he finds himself playing for the very team they're cheering for, making it a win-win for him and his loved ones.
"I was like, 'Y'all gotta stop coming to all these Dallas Cowboys games. I got other people who want to come to Dallas games, too,'" he admitted with a laugh before the irony of how it's all come full circle once again set in. "And now I'm playing for Dallas. … God is amazing. That's all I can say."
Being on a one-year deal means he'll need to hit the ground running in a major way if the Cowboys are going to finally turn the corner, and if he's going to convince them he deserves a new, longer-termed contract in 2021. He brings 16 career interceptions with him to North Texas, and has only one season when he reeled in fewer than two -- no seasons with zero.
That's music to the ears of a takeaway-thirsty Dallas team.
"It's very important," Clinton-Dix said. "This is a competitive sport and I'm a competitor. The one thing that's on everybody's mind in that Dallas organization is winning the championship -- winning the Super Bowl. If your mind's not on that in that front office, you're in the wrong profession. … This is an opportunity of a lifetime."
And as far as reuniting with McCarthy goes, well, time has truly healed any wounds that might've existed two years ago.
"To be able to connect back with the coach who drafted me, who knows me as an individual, as player, as a human being -- it couldn't be set up any better."
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