CHICAGO — After signing a one-year contract to join the Bears on Thursday, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix couldn't contain his excitement.
With a chance to join a defense he called "special" and an opportunity to propel his career forward in Chicago, the former Packer — and short-time Redskin — talked with reporters Friday afternoon about what's ahead for him in 2019. Here are highlights from that conference call:
On what he hopes to prove with a one-year, prove-it deal:
Prove that I'm one of the best and go out and win a championship. I've got the perfect opportunity, coming into something great that Coach (Matt) Nagy has created over there in Chicago, and I'm excited about my opportunity.
On the whirlwind of having been on three teams in the past six months:
It's actually been a blessing. Anytime you can get into this position in your career — 26 years old — many guys don't get in this position. Being able to control my destiny and choose where I want to go and to be a part of something special, man, it's amazing. I had fun in Green Bay. I had a chance to go play for one of my favorite teams. And I had the chance to see both sides of everything. Now being able to pick my team, I think it was an awesome choice and a great decision.
On the role former Alabama teammate and Bears All-Pro Eddie Jackson played in recruiting him to Chicago:
Eddie played a big role. He's always been a fan of mine since he came to Alabama. He talked to me in this process about the culture in Chicago, and I bought in. I was on for the ride. And I'm excited about it. Me and Eddie, we're very similar players and that makes it tough on quarterbacks. We both can play left and right. It's going to be fun and a challenge for other teams.
On whether he crossed paths with Jackson at Halas Hall on Thursday:
Of course. Eddie's been around there all winter. Eddie stopped in and said hello. He was actually working out in the facility. That just shows what type of guy he is. How he still comes out to the facility to work out. Just being a pro at such a young age, it's contagious.
On hosting Jackson during his recruiting visit to Alabama:
Another Florida guy from down South. (Nick) Saban loves Florida guys. And they just wanted me to holler at him. He was a physical corner coming out of high school. He was actually an athlete who could have done anything, and he chose to come over and play defense. And he was one of Saban's guys. Saban treated him like his son and he loved him to death. I knew once Saban felt that way, I knew I had to get him on the squad.
On seeing Jackson emerge as a star in his second season with the Bears:
It's motivation. He's a humble guy. Eddie works his butt off. To see his dreams come true, man, it's a blessing. Coming from where we come from, it's tough to get out. The sky's the limit. He's just climbing his ladder. I hope he continues to grow. He has a lot of room for improvement, and I'm excited to see where we can go with this.
On his first impressions of the Bears defense:
No. 1 defense and I'm joining it? This is a special defense. This is a special core. I want to come in and prove myself to be a part of something special. With so many alpha dogs on the defense, that's rare, and they're having fun doing it. Like I said, I talked to Eddie throughout the year, weekly, what I can do better, what I missed. We joked around and challenged each other each and every week. So to come over to the other side and be a part of something special, it's something that I'm very thankful for.
On what parts of the Bears defense he admired from afar as truly special:
Just the togetherness. It was a young team. Guys were having fun doing it out there. And anytime you have the chance to play the game you love and you're having fun doing it and you're excited to go into work, that's something special. And you could see that.
On being a part of the Bears-Packers rivalry from a new perspective:
I don't know if it'll be weird. I'm excited about it. This is one of the oldest rivalries, if not the oldest rivalry, in the game of football. Just to be a part of this, I'm telling you, man, it's something special and it's a blessing. You get told that your career is only one to three years average. So just to make it to Year 6 and to be in the NFC North, it's exciting and I'm excited about it.
On whether he had better financial offers in free agency before accepting the Bears' one-year deal:
Oh, yes. Yes. I was getting calls from other teams who wanted to sign me, and the money was more. But like I said, you see so many guys get to the end of their careers, their successful careers, and now they're trying to chase a ring. I have the opportunity to do that in my prime. If you ask me, Chicago was an Eddie Jackson (playoff appearance) away from winning a Super Bowl last year. So if there was any way I could come on to this team and contribute and make plays and get my name back out there, I'm excited about that.
On how his skill set will fit into new coordinator Chuck Pagano's defense:
I had the pleasure of playing with Mike Pettine in Green Bay for my last eight games there. And (he and Pagano) were together in Indy, so they have very similar defenses. And I was having fun in Mike Pettine's defense, so I'm glad to be a part of Chuck's defense and I just can't wait to flourish. Coming from the Saban system, it's not hard to get acclimated to a new defense. I'm ready to roll.
On why things didn't work out in Green Bay:
I don't know. I did everything right and I did what I was asked to do. I think they were just looking for change. My time was up. I watched so many guys come in and do all the right things and things just didn't work out in Green Bay. So that's what I had on my shoulders going into Year 5 there. I had to treat every game like it was an interview. And I did just that and things worked out well for both sides.
On the probability of facing the Packers in the season opener in September:
I'm excited about it. We played the Bears last year (in the opener), and that game was crazy. It was so loud. Luckily I was on the other side of that win, but we barely pulled that win out. That was a good game.