After the Seahawks fell just short of making the NFC championship game three years ago, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear that one of his team's top priorities that offseason would be to upgrade its pass rush. Not long after, Seattle put that plan into action by signing defensive end Cliff Avril, then a day later adding Michael Bennett.
Three years and few weeks later, Avril is celebrating his 30th birthday as someone who has become a vital piece of Seattle's defense since joining the team in 2013. The addition of Avril and Bennett helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, make it back to the Super Bowl a year later, and establish a defense has put together a historic run of dominance—Seattle is the first team in the Super Bowl era to lead the NFL in scoring defense for four straight seasons. In three seasons with Seattle, Avril has 22 sacks, 8 forced fumbles and 13 passes defensed, and has started every game for two straight seasons.
Before Avril got to celebrating his 30th—but not celebrating too hard now that he has left his 20s behind—he appeared Friday on the Justin and Gee Show on 710 ESPN Seattle. Among the topics covered were Avril's best birthday present—his dad got him a car and his brother bought him a set of rims to go with it when he was 16 or 17.
Avril also talked about the return of Chris Clemons: "It's awesome to have him back. We've had a lot of communication over the last two years since he left." Avril added that he, like teammates Richard Sherman and Bennett, was in Clemons' ear about re-signing.
"He's still pass rushing at a high level, so I'm definitely glad he made the decision to come back and try to win a championship," Avril said.
Less exciting for a Seahawks defensive lineman, however, was losing defensive tackle Brandon Mebane in free agency.
"That's my brother," Avril said. "That's unfortunate we lost Mebane, because he plays a big factor in our defense. In order for me to be able to pass rush, the guy in the middle has to be able to stop the run. He did a great job his whole career… He's going to be missed, that's for sure."
A topic that didn't come up in the interview, but that deserves a birthday plug, is Avril's work in the local community and beyond. Next week Avril, Bennett, Marshawn Lynch and other NFL players are traveling to Port-au-Prince, Haiti on a trip being coordinated through Free the Children. Players will participate in an elementary school build, host a mobile health clinic, participate in a football camp and adopt a local orphanage, which includes funding water, clothes, shoes, etc. for one year.
The Cliff Avril Family Foundation will provide funding to build a classrooms and for the installation of a community garden. The classroom will house kindergarten students. While on site, kindergarten students will be measured for new uniforms that will be delivered in the fall.
Closer to home, Avril is continuing fundraising efforts to fight diabetes. Avril, who lost his grandmother to the disease, is again participating in the Beat the Bridge walk and run on May 15, and a $50 or more donation gives fans a chance to meet Avril prior to the walk, and $100 comes with a T-shirt and a chance to win tickets for the 2016 home opener. (More details here).
Interestingly enough, Avril isn't the only prominent Seattle athlete celebrating a 30th birthday today, as Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is also turning 30.
Wishing a happy birthday to Cliff Avril who reaches the big 3-0, coming off a career high season in tackles and assists this Blue Friday.