A Pro Bowl sack master and Haitian home builder, Cliff Avril capped a career-year in 2016 by funding and constructing new homes in Haiti for every QB sack he tallied for the Seahawks.
“A sack is like the best thing ever for me, and this tops that by ten,” he said of the effort.
For the second straight offseason, Avril visited the birthplace of his mother and father in Haiti, this time with his mother along for the trip.
“My mom was with me, and she grew up in Haiti, so for her to be a part of the process as well brought tears to her eyes,” he said.
After Hurricane Matthew devastated much of the country, the 10th-year pro, who was born in Jacksonville, Florida, pledged to build a home for all 11.5 sacks.
Avril rounded up to 12, though the generosity of others helped grow that number.
“In total, though, there are some families and people that donated, and we ended up building 25 homes,” he explained.
Avril vows to live up to the sacks for homes again this season, and in addition to the houses, the Cliff Avril Family Foundation also broke ground on the final building for an elementary school.
“I got to actually move some of the families into the homes the first day,” he said. “To see the excitement, to see how you are changing their lives, not just their lives, but their kids’ lives or kids’ kids’ lives, they own these homes now.”
He had some sidekicks on his travels, like fellow Seahawks pass rusher Michael Bennett, who Avril noted added humor to the trip.
“It’s pure comedy the whole time. Mike B doesn’t have a filter,” he said. “He doesn’t care if he is in Africa or London or whatever. Like, whatever he is thinking he is going to say. At sometimes you are like, ‘Mike, that’s cold-hearted,’ but that’s just who he is.”
Bennett was not the only friend that join Avril in his trip. The one and only Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch was also there while the now Oakland Raider was still in retirement mode.
While now on different teams, Avril said he has nothing but best wishes for his now former teammate.
“It’s odd, but I am happy for him. I really am,” he said. “I understand what he wants to accomplish in Oakland. Who he is, he represents Oakland to the fullest and to be able to play for your home city, the team you grew up watching all of your life before they leave, that’s awesome. And on top of that, it’s not like we have to play them so we are good.”
Avril and the Seahawks open up their preseason schedule Sunday on the road visiting the LA Chargers. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. on FOX 12.
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