Cliff Avril: Seattle should build around Russell Wilson

NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Cliff Avril

Defensive end, Seattle Seahawks

Born: April 8, 1986

Experience: 10 NFL seasons

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | January 15, 2018

I'm feeling good, actually. I'm getting better every day. Again, you know, my rehab [following neck surgery] just started last week. The goal is to continue getting better, and once I get to that point of where doctors might feel that it's possible to play and whatnot, I'll make a decision from there.

The post-surgery recovery process they said would be about four to five months. That's how I'm gauging it right now.

[If I'm able to play again, I'm hoping to play] maybe one or two [more years]. I mean, 10 years is a long time to be playing this game. If it is over with, it was a great run. But if I could, I'd like to play one more, just to say I was able to bounce back, more than anything.

If I'm able to [play], the biggest thing for me is to appreciate the moment. Over the years, you get caught up in just trying to be better. I was able to win the Super Bowl and all these different things, but I don't think I ever actually stopped and appreciated it. If I got another chance, I would appreciate my teammates, appreciate the opportunity, appreciate playing in front of 60,000 or 70,000 people.

[If the Seahawks are rebuilding], they kind of have to [rebuild around Russell Wilson]. They paid him all that money. But since I've been there at least, everything has been defense. The core backbone of the team has always been defense. If the defense is playing well and getting turnovers, it gives Russ more opportunities. It'd be hard for me to completely see them throwing that mindset away.

It's nuts to see, but we see it so much that it's like, "Uh, oh. [Wilson's] about to do something special." Russ is a heck of a teammate, heck of a leader. Half of the stuff you see on game day you don't see in practice. Being able to see it for five years, you know when something special is about to happen. He's so consistent that it's like a play, like it's supposed to go down like that. It's just impressive to watch, because some of the things he does, quarterbacks technically aren't supposed to do that.

I'm definitely surprised by where [the Jaguars] are at today, because last year, they weren't that good. In the NFL, it's rare for a team to be bad and then almost be in the Super Bowl the following year. That's surprising to me.

When you start diving a little deeper into it with Jaley Ramsey, Calais [Campbell], Malik [Jackson] and the linebacker [Telvin] Smith, it's like, Man, these guys are some ballers. They have the players to make it happen, and that's why they're having so much success. More than that, though, I think they all believe in each other because no one else believed in them. Once you got the team together, I think the sky's the limit for them.

It starts out defensively [if the Jags want to beat Tom Brady]. It starts with the D-line and then their DBs, Jalen Ramsey and [A.J. Bouye]. Those guys are some of the best corners in the league right now, and that goes hand in hand with the guys up front. If they just come together and get after the quarterback, he'll float some balls up for the DBs to catch and get turnovers. Collectively, they just have to be on top of their game.

Minnesota's front seven is probably one of the best, but collectively, Jacksonville has a better defense.

My Super Bowl prediction is Philly, and I would love for Jacksonville to be in it. It's so hard to go against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but I'll say Jacksonville just because I'm being biased.

Home-field advantage plays a big factor in [Minnesota] being able to win that game [if they make the Super Bowl]. You don't have to leave for a whole week. Everything is familiar. It literally will be nothing but Minnesota fans probably there. I don't think people realize, especially from a defensive perspective, how much home-field advantage plays into it. From the offense not being able to make their calls and different things like that, that's a huge advantage.

Kyle Vanden Bosch was a veteran that I took a lot of advice from, and I want to call a mentor, in a sense. It wasn't about what he said but more so how he went about his day-to-day [routine]. We were a losing team [in Detroit] and he taught me how to become a professional. ... That's one of the reasons I was able to play so long I think.

Frank Clark has come a long way from his rookie year to Year 3. He's actually asking questions and understanding the lingo when we're out on the field and how things work.

Jarran Reed is coming around for us, too. He's actually humbled himself in a sense and is taking criticism, applying it and getting better.

People just randomly decided to donate, especially in Seattle, after what [President Donald] Trump said. With what he said, I think people feel a certain way about it. His views aren't necessarily most of America's views on [Haiti]. For people to get behind my Cliff Avril Family Foundation, it's pretty cool. People have donated about $3,500 recently.

I'm not surprised anymore by some stuff that [Trump] says. He's not a politician either, so he's speaking from a billionaire's perspective. For him to call out Haiti and some of these black countries, it kind of shows you where his mindset is a little bit. It's unfortunate that in 2018 we're having to deal with these issues still.

For me, it's about just giving back. I don't let people sway me one way or the other. I just want to keep giving back to that country. Haiti is a beautiful country and has amazing people there. It's just been a tough 10 years for them, really. I think propaganda plays a part in why that country is struggling. But anybody who goes there and sees how beautiful it is, sees what it really is. Some are actually moving there.

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