Cliff Avril: From winless to Super Bowl contender

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Six years ago, Cliff Avril was a rookie on arguably the worst team in NFL history: the 0-16 Detroit Lions.

It’s amazing how much it has all come full circle for the defensive end, as he and the Seattle Seahawks are now just one win away from being a Super Bowl champion.

Avril, a third-round pick by the Lions in 2008, has quickly developed into one of the league’s best pass rushers. In six seasons, he has recorded 47.5 sacks, with eight coming this season for the Seahawks’ fierce defense.

“I was just a rookie trying to make the team,” Avril said of that 2008 season. “I didn’t realize we were that bad until the offseason and not wanting to tell people that I played for the Lions.”

Avril appeared in 15 games, starting four for the Lions that year. He registered 23 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles as a member of the league’s worst defense–they surrendered a league-worst 404.4 total yards per game.

But despite the hardships he was faced with during his rookie season, Avril has no complaints about his time in Detroit.

“I had a blast in Detroit,” he said. We had some good times there, we had a winning season. I don’t regret any of my time there.”

As the Lions improved, so did Avril. He recorded a career-high 11 sacks in 2011 and Detroit clinched its first playoff berth since 1999. They eventually lost to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round.

The Seahawks added Avril in the offseason, signing the 27-year-old to a two-year, $13 million contract. There have reportedly been discussions of an extension following another big year for the defensive lineman, but nothing has been agreed upon yet.

For now, Avril is just happy to be where he is.

“I guess just not being able to tell people or not wanting to tell people that I played for the Lions was a low,” he said when asked about his worst time in Detroit. “But we’re at the Super Bowl six years later so, you know, everything happens for a reason.”


Cliff Avril is just one of many reasons the Seahawks don’t need a great offense to win.


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