by Kerry Speckman // photo courtesy of Seattle Seahawks
Millions of kids grow up with dreams of winning a Super Bowl. Cliff Avril was not one of them. Born in Jacksonville and raised in Clay County, Avril, who plays defensive end for the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks, spent his childhood playing basketball. He fantasized about playing in the NBA; Michael Jordan was his idol (and still is). After realizing he wasn’t tall enough to play at a Division I college, he decided to give football a try.
Avril played in his very first football game in high school and admits he didn’t even understand the rules. And the rest, as they say, is history.
He went on to play at Purdue University and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2008, and made history by becoming the first NFL player to win a Super Bowl after playing for a team with zero wins (the Lions).
Avril currently lives in Seattle with his fiancée Tia and his “little man,” 2-year-old Xavier.
• Avril is bilingual. His parents emigrated from Haiti in the 1980s, and he grew up speaking Creole.
• In his spare time, which is extremely limited during the football season, he says he likes to travel, watch movies and go to the park with his family. In the off season, he visits Jacksonville about twice a month.
• “I’ve met a lot of cool people [during my career],” he says, “but I’ve never been the type of person who gets so excited to meet celebrities like I’m going to pass out or faint. So it [feels] strange when people come up to me and are so excited to meet me.”
• His one indulgence is collecting sneakers. He estimates he owns 200 pairs, the majority of which are Air Jordans.
• When he’s in town, Avril likes to shop at St. Johns Town Center and is a big fan of The Cheesecake Factory. The jambalaya is his favorite.
• Admitting only God knows where he’ll be in 10 years, Avril says he will be grateful if he stays healthy and can finish 10 seasons in the NFL. After that, he hopes to pursue a career in radio and one day start his own clothing line. “I’m really into fashion … not to the level of [NBA player] Russell Westbrook,” he says. But he does appreciate a good pair of jeans, a nice t-shirt or button-down and, of course, some Air Jordans.