Cliff Avril has seen it all in his NFL career. He is the only man to go from being on a winless team to becoming a Super Bowl Champion. A native Floridian who takes great pride in his Haitian heritage, the standout defensive end has worked his way up the ranks to become one of the cornerstones of the Seattle Seahawks’ dominant defense.
Fresh off signing a new 4-year deal with the perennial powerhouse Seahawks, Avril now seeks to help his team return to the Super Bowl once again to avenge last season’s razor-close loss to the New England Patriots. As he prepares himself for the 2015 season, Cliff took time to talk to DUB about his career and the passion for cars he has had since riding in his father’s head-turning T-top Camaro back in the ’90s.
“In the Haitian community, my dad was that guy,” Avril recalls. “He always had a sweet car. Chrome wheels on it and the whole nine. Growing up seeing that, it was just cool to me.” Later, as a teenager when the original “The Fast and the Furious” movie was released, Avril and his friends would go to local car shows to check out the lowered Civics and twin-turbo Supras that dominated the import scene. “As soon as I got my first car - a Mazda Protégé - I saved up enough money to put some 17s on it. Got it lowered, added exhaust tips… Haha, I thought I was doing my thing on it.”
After high school, Cliff would go on to play football at Purdue and was eventually drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2008. But realizing his dream turned out to be far different than he thought it would be. During his rookie year, his Lion team became infamous for becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history. Because he was so focused on just trying to crack the starting lineup and show what he could do on the field, the magnitude of the team’s struggles did not fully register with him at the time. It wasn’t until the offseason, when people would approach him about being a pro football player did it dawn on him. Now he looks back and laughs at how awkward those conversations were. “I couldn’t really tell them I played for the Lions, which is crazy, to be embarrassed to tell people you play for an NFL team.”
It was not all bad news, though. Being an NFL player also meant he was finally able to buy the kinds of cars he wanted. No longer the import fanatic of his early teen years, he bought his first-ever new car, a Cadillac Escalade. Later he would add a BMW M6 to feed his thirst for speed that remained from his days as a “Fast and Furious” fan.
All of Cliff’s struggles and hard work finally paid off when he completed his contract with the Lions and signed with the Seattle Seahawks, immediately helping to transform them into one of the elite teams in the league. And no better exclamation point could be put on that rise to greatness than when Cliff became one of the heroes of Super Bowl XLVIII. By scoring a safety 12 seconds into the game and later forcing an interception from future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, he had etched a name for himself in the record books.
And of course, with the notoriety that came with being a Super Bowl Champ also came the opportunity to upgrade his car collection. “I had to get something special to get rid of my baby [the Escalade] and there’s no better SUV to get than the G.” Wrapped satin black and rolling on custom black chrome Forgiatos, Cliff’s 2014 Mercedes G63 AMG sports a Brabus front bumper and calipers custom-plated in real gold with XLVIII etched underneath the AMG logo. “That’s my grind car. It fits what I’m about to do when I drive to practice each day.”
When talking about his 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, Cliff explains how many players in the league feel every man should own at least one old-school American muscle car. “I just got the SS this year. It’s my first old school. Took two years to build it. I wanted the looks, but not the headaches of having an old school so everything other than the shell is brand new.” Like his G-Wagon, the SS sports Forgiatos, (22s in the front and 24s in the rear). Featuring the LS3 engine found in today’s Camaro SS and a custom suede interior, Cliff’s Chevelle was dynoed at more than 475 horses to the wheels. “She’s a beast,” Cliff said with a smile. “She brings me back to my Fast and Furious days and those days as a kid when you play with souped up Hot Wheels toy cars.”
The car in Cliff’s stable that he considers “his baby” is his 2013 Ferrari 458 Spyder. “I had a BMW M6 and I needed to find a sports car to top that. And one that I could fit in since I’m 6’3”, 260 lbs.” Cliff remembers the moment he decided to buy it early this year. “I’m going to the Super Bowl again. Why not?” Keeping with the theme of all Cliff’s cars, his black Spyder has satin black wheels and satin black wrapped roof. “You can’t ride around anywhere without someone giving you a thumbs up and trying to look inside to see who you are.” When reminiscing how hard his mother and father had to work at multiple jobs to make life easier for Cliff and his family, he thanks them for instilling that same work ethic that helped get him to where he is today. But that’s not all that was instilled in him. Just like his dad was back in the day with his tricked-out Camaro riding on chrome, Cliff is now “that guy” in the neighborhood, with the rides people can’t help but break their necks trying to see.