The 12th Man faithful were greeted to a pleasant surprise June 15 as Seattle Seahawk defensive end Cliff Avril paid a visit to Puyallup.
Avril was in town to meet the local fan base as well as sign autographs and take pictures with those who attended, all the while welcoming the opening of the new Verizon Wireless Smart Store in Puyallup.
It’s easy for Avril to come out to these events to meet a piece of one of the greatest fan bases in the NFL.
“I think it’s fun,” Avril said. “I just asking them how often they get guys to come out this far. But for me, it’s fun to come out and see the people who support you. A lot of these people couldn’t probably make it to the game, being so far out.”
“I think it’s just a fun thing to do.”
And it’s fun for the people who invited him to come out.
“This is an exciting event for us because it’s not often we get a NFL player come to our store — I’m definitely excited to have that happen,” Verizon store manager Jimmy Gravseth said. “We’ve been promoting this all week … we handed out flyers and have people on Meridian honking at us.”
Rarely do fans of the Seahawks get such a treat to see one of their favorite NFL stars, but Avril is one of those rare individuals who relishes these opportunities. Whenever there’s chance to meet 12th Man, he has jumped at those opportunities himself.
“I love it … Let’s be real — you know, you can only play this sport for so long, and to have people embrace you and love you, you got to soak it up,” he said. “Without them we don’t have a 12th Man, our stadium sucks. So we got to definitely show our love back.”
“Makes me feel great — it makes us feel great that they actually do care about the individuals out here who do support them,” Seahawks fan Stephanie Lincoln-Baines said.
With the music pumping and the smell from Bob’s Burgers wafting in the air, the local 12th Man was ready to meet Avril.
Fans brought in their own unique memorabilia to sign — a bench for one fan, end zone pylons for another or just the typical picture, jersey or hat. It’s not often a person can collect all those signatures without driving 40-plus miles to do it.
“Well, Seahawks are No. 1 in our book,” said Harry Hordyk, who brought his family to share the event together. “Being a 12th Man, it’s all about meeting and greeting a Hawk … (these events) establishes another generation of the 12th Man — it helps carry on the tradition.”
It also creates a lasting memory for everyone involved.
As fans trickled in, all were greeted with the same bright smile and attuned attention of Avril, making it easy for all to come and meet this man seen every week on TV in the fall.
It makes the fans hungry for next season to begin with another chance to win that second championship, especially with the way last season’s Super Bowl heartbreak ended.
But for Avril, coming to these events to greet the Seahawk fan base while being so close to the start of camp makes him hungrier.
“The players definitely more hungry,” Avril said. “Don’t get me wrong, I know the fans definitely want another one and to experience it. But for us as players, that’s the ultimate goal each year. And tasting that victory and (then) falling short a little bit last year, I think that makes us more hungry … we definitely want to try to bring another championship to the city.”