Dixon, a Maori, was born in Papakura, a town of 23,000 on North Island of New Zealand. In 1986, when Dixon was hanging around Auckland, a New Zealander and NFL bird dog named George O'Scanlan approached him on the street and asked if he would be interested in playing U.S. football. Considering that the financial opportunities in rugby are virtually nonexistent, this was a no-brainer. With the help of then Utah State coach Chris Pella, who had visited New Zealand in search of talent, Dixon enrolled at Ricks College, a junior college in Rexburg, Idaho. He played rugby in 1988 and football the following year before moving on to Arizona State, where as a senior defensive tackle he had 34 tackles with two sacks and eight tackles for a loss.
The Patriots picked Dixon in the ninth round of the 1992 draft, but he was released in training camp. He signed with the Viking practice squad in October, and after being waived again before the '93 season, he spent a year on the practice squad of the Super Bowl champion Cowboys. While there, Dixon also played rugby for the Dallas Harlequins. He returned to Minneapolis when the Vikings re-signed him before the 1994 season.
Dixon, the biggest Viking since 318-pound Curtis (Boo Boo) Rouse in the mid-1980s, backed up Hinton last season and again this year, until the 13-year pro underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in Week 4. When Dixon moved into a starting role, he joined 332-pound rookie Korey Stringer in giving the Vikings the biggest—but also the most inexperienced—right side of an offensive line in the league.
"David is still a raw player," says Viking offensive line coach Keith Rowan, "but when he hits you, it's something."