GREEN BAY - The personal issue that led to Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix missing OTAs was the death of his godmother around the time of his graduation from the University of Alabama in early May.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was at Green Bay’s mandatory minicamp that began Tuesday, and he explained that he chose to spend time this spring with family after the sudden passing of Alisa Dorsett, the former administrator at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla., which Clinton-Dix attended.
Dorsett, 49, was also Clinton-Dix’s godmother, and she had attended multiple Packers games at Lambeau Field to cheer on Clinton-Dix.
“She wore that 21 jersey proud,” Clinton-Dix said after Tuesday’s workout. “She’s definitely going to be missed for me.”
To call her a role model and mentor in Clinton-Dix’s life only begins to describe how he felt about her. According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, Dorsett had a heart attack while traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to see Clinton-Dix’s college graduation last month.
“She meant everything. She wasn’t only a leader to me, but to the community,” Clinton-Dix said. “She was a principal at an ‘F’ school. She turned it into a ‘C’ within a year.
“I learned the principles of being a young man, not taking anything for granted. She taught so much to me and my younger brother.”
Photos: First day of minicamp
Take a look at photos from the first day of minicamp where the Packers practiced at Ray Nitschke Field.
Asked whether his absence from OTAs, which are voluntary, was also related to his current contract, Clinton-Dix indicated he’s not sweating the lack of a long-term deal right now, nor is he feeling any added pressure heading into what has turned into a contract year.
He’s entering the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, an option the Packers picked up about a year ago. He said he remains focused on learning a new defense he’s very excited about.
“It’s fun,” he said. “Schemed up. I’m going to have fun playing it, man.”
As for whether he needs to play “catch up” due to the time he missed, Clinton-Dix cracked jokes about what he likes on his burgers and fries. While away, he had his playbook tablet with him, watched all the practice film, and stayed in communication with the coaches to get questions answered.
At the start of the offseason program in mid-April, and when he was announced as the 100th-ranked player on the NFL Network’s “Top 100” list, Clinton-Dix confessed he didn’t follow up his 2016 All-Pro season the way he wanted to in 2017. Statistically, his interceptions dropped from a career-high five to three.
He believes Mike Pettine’s defense could free him up to make more plays, but he said the proof will come when the games actually start in three months.
“I know my value to this defense, and it’s something for y’all to see,” he said. “I guess we’ll see when we play Chicago and on from there.
“I'm excited about this opportunity I have in front of me right now going into my fifth year. Like I said, the sky's the limit for me, so just watch. Just watch.”