Just as tight end Brandon Pettigrew did last week, Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril recently stopped by the Pride of Detroit Podcast. While on the show, he talked about his contract situation, playing alongside Kyle Vanden Bosch, the 5-0 start, fashion and much more.
You can check out Jerry Mallory's interview with Avril by listening to the audio below or by reading the transcript after the jump. You can also check out more from Avril at School of the Legends, where he serves as the Lions correspondent.
(Note: This interview was recorded the day before the 49ers game.)
Pride of Detroit: You guys have struggled a little bit the last few years. Coming off the start you have been doing, how does it feel to be 5-0?
Cliff Avril: It's great. It's a great feeling to be 5-0. It's great that we're trying to turn things around, but at the same time we're still hungry. We still have 11 games to go, so we haven't really accomplished anything. We're just trying to continue to better the team to get some more victories.
POD: I want to ask you one thing about the Monday Night Football game. It was a huge game, a big victory. I think one of the bad things that happened that a lot of people haven't been talking about yet is the situation with Tony Scheffler. It was a helmet-to-helmet hit by Brian Urlacher, causing Scheffler to get a concussion. News just came out that he had to go to the hospital. There have been no penalties, no fines. Do you think it's a double standard sometimes? You got a teammate like Ndamukong Suh that hits a guy and he gets fined instantly, but then you have a guy like Urlacher, who had a blatant hit and nothing has happened. Is it a double standard sometimes in the NFL? I know it's kind of a touchy subject, but what do you think about that?
CA: I think it kind of is. It depends on who you're hitting. You're hitting a guy across the middle, you might be fined, but if you're hitting a quarterback, there's no doubt about it. You're going to get that FedEx package the following week. I think it just all depends on who it is. They try to protect the quarterbacks more so than anybody in the league. I guess that's a double standard in the whole situation as far as for not necessarily who is hitting who, it's who you are hitting. I think that's the biggest thing.
POD: I want to ask you about Kyle Vanden Bosch. Playing alongside him now for the second season, what have you learned from him not just on the field, but in terms of work ethic? I'm sure he's often giving you guys some pointers. What are some things you learn playing alongside a guy like Vanden Bosch?
CA: I've learned so much. I honestly (attribute) a lot of the turnaround for me and how I play to him. He's taught me how to play the game. He's taught me how to study the game of football. He's taught me how to become a professional more so than anything. I worked out with him all offseason during the lockout, so me being a younger guy, I picked his brain, trying to get a better feel for what this NFL stuff is like, what people expect of you as a defensive end in our scheme. He's done a lot for me. I really do appreciate that move that the coaches made by bringing him in.
POD: I want to ask you about your contract. This is something, as big Lions fans, you knew we were going to have to bring this up. We know you were tendered. It was something where we were hoping a long-term deal would be signed. Have you guys still been in negotiations for the contract? Have you shut it down while the season is started? What's the update on that?
CA: Me personally I told my agent not to call me unless they have something definite. I want to be focused on football right now. I don't think about it. Whatever happens, happens. Lord willing I get something soon. But if not, it's all good. Everything happens when it needs to happen. But I told my agent, until they have something definite, don't even really discuss it with me. So I don't even know what's going on, honestly. I'm just playing football right now.
POD: One quick follow-up question on that. Do you look at some other guys in the league with similar positions, similar age? I say, for example, Charles Johnson. You guys have had similar stats since you been in the league. You're about the same age. He just got a big fat deal there in Carolina. When you look at a contract like that, do you say, "Man, you know, I've played about as good as Johnson, if not better." Do you look at other guys and similar scenarios when you're thinking about what your market value is worth?
CA: Yeah, this offseason I did. When you see a guy, like you said Charles Johnson, I think he's a year older than me and we have probably about just as many sacks in the league. It makes you think -- you know, the potential of what you can get. But it's all about timing, too. This NFL thing is crazy. It's all about timing. It's all about what your team can give you or are willing to give you. It's just a matter of different things. But I definitely see a lot of D-ends have gotten paid. I feel like my stats are similar to theirs. It just gives you a little more incentive to go out there and bust your behind so you can try to get one of those fat deals.
POD: Other than Calvin Johnson, there were only a few, to be honest, good draft picks by Matt Millen, but you're one of them. There are just a lot of guys that aren't here anymore (Kevin Smith, Ikaika Alama-Francis, etc.). But you were one of the bright spots being drafted by him. Coming out of Purdue, you seemed to really fit a 3-4 linebacker/D-end. Where did you think you were going to play when you were coming out of the draft -- as a linebacker in the 3-4 or did you expect to be a 4-3 defensive end?
CA: I truly did believe I was going to be a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme because of all the guys before me at Purdue. Anthony Spencer, Shaun Phillips, Rosevelt Colvin, a lot of guys that came out of Purdue that were D-ends played in a 3-4 scheme, so I definitely thought one of those teams was going to pick me up. And I also played linebacker in college, too, so I thought I had all that riding on it. But then I got drafted to a 4-3 team. You just gotta adapt and keep it moving. And our scheme is definitely made for a speed rusher like myself to be successful. Everything happens for a reason, so I'm not too mad at it.
POD: A few things outside of you as a football player ... your Twitter account (@cliffavril), you're one of the more interesting guys. You can see a lot of your personality for those that follow you. Life outside of football, once retirement comes (it comes for everybody), do you see yourself being in front of the camera still on ESPN, on NFL Network? Because I can see it just from the personality that I see from your Twitter account alone.
CA: Yeah, I've definitely thought about it. I got a radio show now in Detroit that I do every Monday. I'm trying to build the brand thing to the point where I can do something like that -- get out there do radio, do hopefully ESPN or something like that. I'm just trying to open up more doors for when this thing ends because you definitely can't do it forever. You gotta have a plan and that would be one of them.
POD: Hopefully you make that. A lot of your former players -- there's some good ones, but there's some bad ones on TV, too.
CA: (laughter) Oh, no question. No question.
POD: Some of these guys you look and say, "Man, if they didn't play in the NFL ... can they complete a sentence?" But you seem like one of those guys that would fit really good.
CA: I appreciate that.
POD: We like to know about our players. Here in Detroit, we're big fans. If you weren't an NFL player, what would you be doing you think?
CA: I'm a big sneakerhead. I like kicks -- retro Jordans and Air Force Ones and all that stuff. I think, honestly, I would be trying to open up a shoe store, like an exclusive shoe store and try to own it. I want to do that still. That's my biggest thing. I think I'm into fashion, so it'd be something in that kind of industry, trying to own my own business, own a shoe store.
POD: I know there are some expensive shoes out there. You got the Air Yeezys, you've got Louis Vuitton that makes shoes. They've got some expensive ones. A guy like me, an every-day working man, I look at them. But you're the type of guy that could probably get them. Do you have some of those high-end shoes? Those special edition Air Force Ones? Those Louis Vuittons and different things?
CA: I'm not really a Louis Vuitton guy. I feel like you've got to be a different status to get Louis. I'm not really into Louis. I do own a pair or two of Guccis, but I'm a sneakerhead. I like Nikes. I do have a lot of exclusive Nikes. I have a lot of retro Jordans. But that also goes to I have a deal with Nike, so I get a lot of that stuff from them, which makes it a lot easier on the pockets. Mostly my kicks are Air Force Ones and Jordans.
POD: Strike while the iron is hot. I saw some custom Air Force Ones and Air Maxes. The Lions are hot now, man. This would be a good time to call some people at Nike and say, "Let's get a Lions-themed shoe." I'm sure they would probably sell out.
CA: It definitely would.
POD: What's the first big purchase you made when you made it to the league?
CA: The first big purchase, which is the dumbest purchase ever, I bought a car. I bought an Escalade. I bought an Escalade right after I signed. I want to say I regret it, but then again, I don't. I put in hard work to get it. But I'll probably never buy a brand new car again because it's the worst investment you can make.
POD: Once you get that Charles Johnson money you can buy a lot of that. You hear that, Lewand? Pay the man. (laughter)
POD: What do you like to listen to go ready for the game? Some of us fans, I've even got songs that I listen to now just to get ready to watch you guys play. What do you like to listen to before you actually play the game?
CA: I like to keep it calm before I go out there. I don't like to psyche myself up too, too much before the game. I listen to some T-Pain, something slow and mellow. I've been rocking to J-Cole lately. That's a pretty good CD. I keep it simple -- J. Cole, Wale or something like that. Right before I go out, though, I listen to this one track before every (game). It's a song called "Underdog" by Wale, as a matter of fact. It's just something that I guess kind of inspires me. I feel I'm an underdog a lot of times. I just bob out to that before I go out and then try to go do my thing.
POD: What are you personally doing to keep focused and stay competitive? Sometimes as fans we go overboard. We think 5-0 and we're just going crazy. But you guys are getting a lot of notoriety now. You've got some big names in the locker room. ESPN is finally talking about you guys. What are you personally doing to kind of push that aside, stay focused -- you've got contract things, you've got a lot going on -- what are you doing to stay focused and to stay competitive and be a high-level player as you are?
CA: Honestly, even though our team is being very successful right now, on a personal level I haven't really done too much this season. I've only got two sacks. I'm getting pressures here and there or whatever, but I'm not happy necessarily with my stats, but I'm happy with how our team is doing. I'm focused just on that. We're winning, and I definitely love it because I was part of the 0-16 era. I love that, but I also feel like I haven't accomplished any of my goals yet. I still have a long way to go before I get to accomplish all of my goals. That's what keeps my motor running, I guess.
POD: Some people might not know, but you're a Lions correspondent of a very cool site. I had a chance to check it out. It's School of the Legends. The actual site is www.schoolofthelegends.com/teams/football/lions. Tell us about the work you're doing with this great site.
CA: It's a chance for fans to actually go on the website and listen to -- like you said, I'm one of the correspondents for the Lions this year -- it gives you a chance to see basically, every week I update it with telling you how the previous game went and (what) the game plan was for it and then the game plan for the following week or whatever. It's real cool. It's free; that's a plus. It gives fans the opportunity to connect one-on-one with some of their favorite NFL players. It's like a Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all combined in one. It's real cool. A lot of people should definitely check it out.
POD: Cliff, you've been a great guest. We appreciate your time. You answered all the questions. You even talked about the contract deal. Here at the Pride of Detroit Podcast we want to personally thank you, and don't be a stranger, man. Come back; we would love to have you on the show again.
CA: Yeah, no problem, man. No problem at all. Thanks for having me.