Another year, another former Detroit Lions’ player competing for glory at the Super Bowl.
This time, it’s the same face as exactly one year ago. Cliff Avril will be trying to repeat as a champion with the Seattle Seahawks, seeking glory for the second time since departing the Lions. When he left the team via free agency a few years back, however, the choice and process still weren’t clear-cut at all for the defensive end regardless of how obvious they seemed.
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Avril took time out to speak on that matter while in Glendale, Arizona, and also lent some words of wisdom to current Lions’ star Ndamukong Suh who seems destined for the same process himself very shortly.
"“It’s going to be a headache,” Avril said regarding what Suh would face on the open market via MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke. “But his situation will be a little bit different than mine. So (my) advice is to embrace whatever his role is, and make sure whatever team you go to, you fit the scheme. I think that’s the big thing.”“Sometimes we look at the money aspect of things, but if you can’t be productive in the scheme, you probably won’t be playing that whole contract out anyways. So I think that’s the big thing.”"
Avril, of course, currently has few regrets about leaving the Lions, even though he ended up making less money immediately than the home team was set to offer. The Seahawks took care of that recently with a new contract, and personal affluence has also come with greater levels of success on the field.
The Lions, however, are trending in a much different direction now than when Avril left back in 2012, making his gamble a much more calculated one. There’s tangible hope that the team can contend for years to come considering the latest coaching change seems to have been among the best the team has made. For Suh, the grass might not be as greener on the other side as it seemed for Avril.
The Lions, however, are trending in a much different direction now than when Avril left back in 2012, making his gamble a much more calculated one (than Suh’s might be).
Should he choose to leave Detroit, where could Suh logically go? Either the New York Giants or New York Jets seem like obvious slam-dunk fits to most, but is there a guarantee that either team could contend for the playoffs in short order? It might be a lateral move for the defensive tackle to make with regards to play on the field, no offense intended to those in New York.
Suh must be very careful when weighing his decision in the end. Winning in Detroit wouldn’t prevent his personal brand from growing, nor would it limit his ability to market himself throughout the years. Suh has to understand that sacrificing a chance at team success for personal opportunity might not be the best bet.
Six years ago or less, that choice would have been incredibly simple for a player donning a Lions’ uniform. Now, not so much. Though nobody can accurately predict the future, it feels safe to say Suh could turn out just as satisfied finishing his career as a Lion if the team is motivated to get a deal done.
Suh would be wise to listen to the caution in his former teammate’s words. Though they emanate from the Super Bowl, the path to that level of personal and professional satisfaction might actually lead through Detroit for the defensive tackle in spite of what many could believe.