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Playoff football and chicken wings: The Trevor Siemian and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix story

WINDERMERE, Fla. —Trevor just wanted some chicken wings.

The 2016 offseason was only a month old for Siemian, and he was back in Orlando, where he grew up. He was still months away from his first season as a starter, and he'd spent his rookie year learning behind Peyton Manning as the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. Siemian took just a single snap during the regular season, but Manning's retirement meant Siemian was the only quarterback on the roster.

Back in his hometown, he was hungry to take the next step — and also for wings. And so, Siemian strolled into Flyers Wings & Grill.

It was there that he ran into the Packers' Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a fellow Orlandoan, who couldn't have traveled down a more different path.

Clinton-Dix was the No. 1 recruit in the state of Florida who played for Nick Saban at Alabama before he was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Siemian was a middle-of-the-pack, three-star quarterback who wound up at Northwestern and then in Denver after the Broncos took him with the 250th pick in the 2015 draft.

The two players — one poised for a Pro Bowl, the other for a starting job — posed for a picture in their old haunt.

The encounter marked the latest meeting for the two Orlando boys who made it to the NFL.

It certainly wasn't the first.


Olympia High School (Fla.) appeared poised to continue one of its best seasons in school history.

With 3:30 to go in the third quarter of the 2009 district finals, the Olympia Titans led the undefeated Dr. Phillips Panthers, 22-17. Olympia's senior quarterback, Trevor Siemian, had completed 15 of his 21 pass attempts for 163 yards and had run for two touchdowns.

The Panthers were on the ropes as Siemian, only the second 6,000-yard career passer in area history, found his rhythm. While at Olympia, Siemian dazzled with not only his arm but also his legs. His former head coach Bob Head tells a story about a play where Siemian took off out of the pocket and was 25 yards downfield when he decided to pump fake. The defender leapt into the air, and Siemian continued downfield.

When Siemian got to the sideline, his coach was beside himself.

"I say, 'Pump fake 20 yards down field?" Head recalled from his office in late January. "And Trevor goes, 'He jumped didn't he?'"

But in the playoff game against Dr. Phillips, a Siemian scramble met a more unfortunate fate. As he left the pocket late in the third quarter, those hopes were derailed. A Dr. Phillips defensive back came up to meet Siemian and delivered "a crushing sideline hit," according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Siemian had to leave the game, and Olympia's backup quarterback, David Nelson, couldn't rally the Titans when the Panthers took a late lead.

"No knock on Nelson, but I feel 110 percent certain we win with Trevor," Head said at the time. "He would have led us down to score."

As Head looks back on the hit more than seven years later, his opinion of the play hasn't much changed.

"As his junior year kept going, I saw him grow each and every week," Head said. "And then that summer, he really put forth a lot of training. He was just making throw after throw after throw, and his footwork just became so [much] more polished and he was just more prepared.

"He got hit on the shoulder going out of bounds … He got hit, and from there on out, without Trevor [we were done ]… He made everything go."

At least one player on the field that night, however, wasn't disappointed to see Siemian leave the field. Clinton-Dix, one of the stars of the Dr. Phillips defense, saw Siemian tearing up his unit and knew the Panthers didn't have much of a chance with Siemian behind center.

When Siemian was knocked out of the game, Clinton-Dix and Dr. Phillips regained the upper hand.

The Panthers came away with a 23-22 win, and Siemian's Olympia team ended one of the best seasons in school history without any hardware.


The 2016 season proved to be a breakout year for both Siemian and Clinton-Dix.

In Siemian's first season as a starter, he led the Broncos in 14 contests as he threw for 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He even earned a Pro Bowl nod as an alternate, but he had to turn it down due to a recent shoulder surgery.

Clinton-Dix, meanwhile, captured the first Pro Bowl selection of his career. His five interceptions during the season were good for the fifth-best mark in the league, and he didn't miss a single defensive snap all year. Clinton-Dix, who was on the field for all 1,236 snaps, was just one of four players in the league to accomplish that feat.

But before Clinton-Dix and the NFC took the field on Jan. 29, his mind flashed back to that November district title game almost a decade ago. 

"[That play] actually saved the game for us," Clinton-Dix said. "He was hot. He was on fire the entire game.

"I hate to say this, but, Trev, I was glad he knocked you out of the game, because had he not, we would've lost that game for sure."


Siemian and Clinton-Dix seemingly didn't talk much in the years after the district final.

When Siemian made the Broncos roster in August 2015, Clinton-Dix had to tweet to find out if anyone had Siemian's phone number.

But the mutual respect is clear. In a region that's chock full of NFL talent, Siemian and Clinton-Dix hold each other in high regard.

That was clear when they ran into each other at Flyers before their respective breakout seasons.

"It was an unbelievable scene to see him come through the wing spot," Clinton-Dix said. "We had to get a picture. I was glad to see him." 

In that picture — one that is now laminated and in the Siemian family's home — the Green Bay Packers safety stands next to the Denver Broncos quarterback.

On Clinton-Dix's chest, the Dr. Phillips logo. On Siemian's, an Olympia football graphic.

Old allegiances die hard.

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