Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is facing an uncertain timeline for his return from a neck injury and, if this week’s cautious comments from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll are any indication, it’s an injury that may be career-threatening. Whether or not he is able to return to the field, the news reminded 710 ESPN Seattle’s Gee Scott of Avril’s impressive path to Seattle and his impact on the Seahawks franchise.
“I’m sure he’s going to do everything he can (to get healthy),” Gee said, after speaking with Avril earlier this week.
A neck or spinal injury can be more than career-threatening to players — it can also threaten their health and livelihoods after they step off the field. Unsurprisingly, the Seahawks are being careful with the veteran defensive end, who was injured during a tackle in Sunday’s 46-18 win over the Colts. Carroll said Wednesday that Avril is no longer experiencing any symptoms or numbness, but he has already been ruled out for a Week 5 game against the Rams.
With a bye week just around the corner, it’s unlikely there will be additional information — or a decision from the team or Avril — for a couple weeks. And while Seahawks fans are undoubtedly hoping for a more immediate update, Gee cautioned these situations are bigger than football.
“My thing for Cliff Avril is this,” Gee said. “I want Cliff Avril to be able to lead a healthy life. I don’t care if he does play again or if he doesn’t play again, I feel the same way either way. I just want Cliff Avril to be able to continue and lead a good life. With Cliff, if he walked away from the game right now, he’s had a successful career.”
Originally drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2008, Avril is one of the best free agent acquisitions in the history of the Seahawks franchise. And while he’s managed a 10-year career in the NFL, his time in the league wasn’t always bright: Avril spent his rookie season on a winless Lions squad.
“I’ve had many conversations about what life was like for Cliff then. He gambled on himself to come out here to Seattle, and you know the success that he’s had.”
It’s almost an understatement. In four-plus seasons with the Seahawks, Avril has registered 34.5 sacks and 91 tackles, appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls and won one. He recorded a team-high 11.5 sacks in 2016 and was also voted to his first Pro Bowl.
“He is one of the best human beings I’ve ever known in my life,” Gee said of Avril, who pledged to build a home in Haiti for every sack recorded in 2016. In addition to fullfilling that pledge this offseason, he also held a September fundraiser to support his foundation.
“I remember the first day I met him, the first day he got here in Seattle, man, it gets me. It breaks my heart, because you realize just how much these guys put into the game. Not all of these guys make millions of dollars. Some of these players who don’t even have million dollar contracts, they get hurt too. And some of them have problems walking in situations like that. So whatever ends up happening with Cliff, I got to say I know the city of Seattle loves him.”