Seahawks’ Cliff Avril says ref apologized on cheap-shotting punter’s behalf

Dec 31, 2015, 2:13 PM
Cliff Avril called Johnny Hekker's push "uncalled for," but said the punter eventually apologized to him. (AP)

Cliff Avril called Johnny Hekker’s push “uncalled for,” but said the punter eventually apologized to him. (AP)

NFL referees are often needed to keep the peace on the football field. Apparently they can also be used as a white flag.

Cliff Avril told “The Huddle” that he was not being given a warning by refs after running at Rams punter Johnny Hekker, who had shoved him to the ground from behind on an earlier punt, but rather said an official was working as a middleman to make amends.

“He didn’t say (a warning) to me,” Avril said of the official on “The Huddle” on 710 ESPN Seattle Wednesday. “He was like, ‘We flagged him, y’all need to leave him alone.’ But he apologized, he apologized for (the punter) and he was like, ‘I don’t know what he was thinking.'”

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Avril called Hekker’s push “uncalled for,” but said it’s “all good” because the punter eventually apologized to him in person after the game and again on Twitter.

The push, though, certainly caught Avril off-guard.

“You never expect the punter,” he said. “You’re just making sure he kicks it and then trot down field because we were going to fair catch on that play. And out of nowhere, yeah, just got hit from behind. I tried to chase him down on that play but something in my head said, ‘No, you better not do it.'”

Avril added that the aftermath has likely been way worse for Hekker than him.

“By the time I left the locker room they had all kinds of videos up of how it went down and stuff,” he said. “I thought that was pretty hilarious.

“I think it definitely was worse than me actually falling off of a kicker or whatnot. But like I said, he apologized, so it’s all good.”

Here are some other highlights from Avril’s conversation.

On being a Pro Bowl snub: “It’s kind of bittersweet because you feel like maybe you should have made it, but at the same time, I’ve been playing long enough that I know it’s somewhat of a popularity contest and if your numbers and sacks aren’t where they should be or whatnot sometimes… unless you’re watching the film you don’t really get to see what guys are doing out there. But the guys that did make it, though, they deserve it as well.”

On building momentum for the playoffs: “You’ve got to build that momentum back up so you can try to have that run. It’s definitely a chemistry, definitely a feel. I think if guys can go out there and just get back to what we were feeling last week, going into the playoffs I think we’ll be fine.”

On his health: “When you’re 21, 22 years old you bounce back so much quicker after games. You can play on Sunday and feel great Monday afternoon, Tuesday. Now, Thursday you’re starting to feel OK. Friday you’re back to normal. I think that’s the big difference is the recovery time. But you also learn different things to try to bounce back. When you’re young you play, you party probably that night and you’re ready for practice. Now you gotta play, gotta get into the cold tub probably that night, and cold tub all the way throughout the week.”

On his age: “I’m only 29, but that’s old for football. You hit 30, it’s like you hit 75 in the NFL. But I’m having fun, still playing at a decent level so you just keep chopping away.”

On setting goals as a defense and being “roasted” by coaches after allowing 207 yards to the Rams: “You’ll see goals for defenses and they’re like ‘We want to keep them under 100 yards of rushing.’ For us, we want to keep you under 60 yards. Those are our goals and I think we’ve been for the most part consistent with that and that’s what keeps us at one of the top defenses.”

On what he’d think if Seahawks’ punter Jon Ryan gave someone a Hekker-like cheap shot: “It can go both ways, you can either make fun of him or you’d be like ‘Oh, you expect that from a kicker.’ So it’s one or the other, it all depends.”

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