EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril paid some dues to earn his Super Bowl ring.
He was part of the NFL's worst team, the 2008 Lions. That Detroit team is the only one in history to go 0-16 in a season. Avril was a rookie on that team.
Avril completed his climb from rock bottom to on top of the NFL world on Sunday. He and the rest of his Seahawks teammates won Super Bowl XLVIII in a 43-8 blowout of Denver. He had a great game and made one of the key plays, when he hit Peyton Manning's arm as he threw, leading to an interception by Malcolm Smith that was returned 69 yards for a touchdown.
When asked about that journey from 0-16 to Super Bowl champion, Avril nodded and chuckled a bit.
"It's awesome," Avril said. "It just shows that if you continue to grind, have faith and hard work, it will always pay off."
Just because Avril was part of that historically awful team didn't mean he wasn't a good football player. Calvin Johnson, one of the game's all-time great receivers, was on that team too.
Avril was humbled by that experience, and again this season when he came to Seattle from Detroit via free agency and got fewer snaps on a better defense. But he made the most of his playing time on Sunday, and was one of the most disruptive defenders in a dominating defensive performance.
Many of the Seahawks were drafted late, unloved in free agency or had some other slight against them. Only one of them played on an 0-16 team, but that was a distant memory for Avril in the glow of a great Super Bowl win.
"It shows the pride and hunger everyone has," Avril said about the win. "Everyone on our team has a chip on their shoulder."
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