A mini Seahawks reunion took place last week under the Space Needle in downtown Seattle at the Museum of Pop Culture, where current and former Seattle players gathered to celebrate the career of defensive end Cliff Avril, who was treated to a surprise retirement party set up by his wife, Tia.
From active Seattle players like Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright to past standouts including Michael Bennett, Red Bryant, Kam Chancellor, Jeron Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, Clinton McDonald, Brandon Mebane, DeShawn Shead, Richard Sherman, and more, a group that helped the franchise enjoy unprecedented success came together to honor Avril's career in the Emerald City.
Avril spent five seasons with the Seahawks, joining the team as a free agent in 2013 and quickly becoming one of the defense's top players. He helped Seattle earn its first Super Bowl championship in his first season and contributed to a unit that led the NFL in scoring defense in 2013 and 2014, as well as scoring defense again in 2015 as he collected 33.5 sacks and 13 forced fumbles through his first four seasons with the club. Avril's career came to an early end in 2017 after he sustained a serious neck injury, a setback that led to his eventual release from the club in May 2018. He transitioned to a career in radio this past season, but last Thursday's event offered Avril an opportunity to put a cap on his playing career in a special way.
"The love was real last night, so many people came out to celebrate this chapter of my life," Avril captioned in a post on Instagram. "This chapter was amazing can't wait to see what's in store for the next few!"
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was also in attendance, and was featured prominently alongside Avril in the photo he captioned, with Avril calling it a night "for the ages!"
"This was a really special night," Carroll recalled following Tuesday's session of organized team activities. "I had no idea, I was going to just support and have fun, see Cliff and all that. I was blown away by just the emotion of the night with all those guys coming back. The reason it was emotional is because they're happy to be together. It was Cliff's night, of course, but all those guys getting together it was so cool to see them respond to one another. I didn't have to say nothing or talk to anybody, just being around them it was so obvious. Big Red and Mebane and Mike coming back, all those guys, Kearse.
"It was just such a cool night to see them together and I think it's because it was clear to me the foundations of the relationships that have been forged over the years past and that they still maintain it. They're talking about coming back to the area and living here, guys that aren't in the area, and how fun it was for them just to come back just to be here again. Guys that have been in other programs, their comments about appreciating being here. They're connected.
"So for me, to just sit there and have fun with those guys and hang out in the middle of it all, shoot, I was on cloud nine. It was a blast. This isn't the last time these guys will get together. They're talking about reunions and all kinds of stuff that will be coming up and I look forward to every bit of it. It was really fun."