June 10, 2020

Cliff Avril - Building a Winning Team Around You As Both a Pass Rusher and Private Equity Investor

Cliff Avril - Building a Winning Team Around You As Both a Pass Rusher and Private Equity Investor

This week's episode of The Game Plan features Cliff Avril, Super Bowl XLVIII Champion with the Seattle Seahawks.

Cliff Avril is a 10-year NFL vet and is best known for his role as a Defensive End on the "Legion of Boom". During his football career, Cliff was also recognized as a nominee of both the Walter Payton Man of the Year award and Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.

In this episode, Cliff talks about what it was like transitioning from his rookie year as part of one of the worst team seasons in NFL history (0-16 Detroit Lions) to later in his career when he joined an experienced Seahawks' locker room led by Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, and Michael Bennett.

Off the field, Cliff is busy with the Cliff Avril Family Foundation which focuses primarily on bringing attention to the risks associated with juvenile diabetes, as well as providing educational opportunities and housing in his native country of Haiti.  In addition to his philanthropic efforts, Cliff discusses his interest in media and what it means to provide an athlete's perspective behind the microphone for Seattle sports talk radio.

Make sure to follow Cliff on Twitter and Instagram for even more regular updates on everything he's up to.

Follow co-hosts Jay Kapoor (@JayKapoorNYC) and Tim Katt (@Tim_Katt) for all things sports, media, tech, and venture capital.

Follow The Game Plan on Twitter (@thegameplanshow) and Instagram (@gameplanshow) for show news & updates, to recommend guests, & for bonus content!


*Please excuse any and all typos, errors and mistakes in the following transcript as an automated service is used to generate this text*

You know, the biggest thing with coach Pete Carroll, you know, again, just, just. The energy, you know, and, and I've, I've been around -a lot of coaches and you know, most coaches are stern. You know, football coaches are, are, are, are straightened knows militant, Hey, we don't, we only do it one way. And when I got with coach Carroll, the biggest thing that I took from him.

And as I move on and transition to, to build businesses and whatnot was that he was a firm believer of making sure that everybody was comfortable and happy. Right. If you're happy with the situation, you'll go out there and play, and, and understand that that's the game too. And, and having fun doing the, your job, I think is huge.

So the biggest thing from coach Carol was just how much fun we had every day. Not one day while I was here. In Seattle for five years where I just dreaded going to work, or I hated the process on my way home, you know, I'm just mad or anything like that. It was always just a great time. And that's why we were able to play, and have so much success.

Cause we were actually having fun and playing for one another.

Hey, what's going on. This is Cliff Avril, 10 year vet, super bowl champion with the Seattle Seahawks pro bowler. And I'm the founder of the Cliff Avril family foundation. And this is the game plan.

During his 10 year career in the NFL, our guests leveraged his quickness and enthusiasm to make a name for himself as one of the league's fiercest pass rushers. But as both the Walter Payton man of the year and art Rooney sportsmanship award nominee, he leads by example, both on and off the field. We are very honored to have Seattle Seahawks legend and Superbowl champion cliff Avril with us today on the game plan.

Cliff. Thank you so much for joining us.

No. Gosh, thank you for that. I appreciate it

Yeah, listen. the pleasure is ours. And before we jump into it, we just love to ask how are you and your family doing during the quarantine? How is everybody holding up?

and we're making the best of it. You know, the motto is staying out the way, , we're, we're just hanging out at the house  , and, , making,  the best of it a lot of family time. So I, I can appreciate it for sure.

Good. That's great to hear. And, you know, cliff, it's great to have you join us on the game plan. This is a bit of a full circle moment for me is I worked for the Detroit lions as a little a, I guess I was never a little eczema, pretty big guy, but I was a broadcast media assistant in 2009, which was one of the years you were there.

And since our show is a lot about, talking about the transitions. Pro athletes experienced throughout their lives. I think I'm going to ask you a question now that maybe I couldn't have asked back in 2009, which was, what was that transition like for you to achieve a dream of yours to make it to the NFL, but then to start out by making history really,  with the first winless  season in NFL history.

Well, you know, you play the sport, high school. Yeah. I was a late bloomer. I didn't start playing till till 10th grade. So, but being a competitor, you know, you always want to, get to an ultimate thing, which is the professional aspect of whatever sport that is your playing. So for me, it was, you know, just keep grinding and obviously getting drafted.

And I never forget my draft day where I actually fell asleep during the draft cause I got, so I was, I was so mad that I hadn't gotten drafted yet. And then, I got a phone call, the three, one, three popped up. And the only reason I knew the area code was because of eight mile, eight mile had just came out and, you know, of course getting the, getting the call.

So it was just, it was an amazing feeling. You know, it didn't matter where you get drafted to, it was just an amazing accomplishment to get to the NFL because as you know, I mean every child in America right now, that's what that's one of their, their biggest dream is to get to that point. So getting there was was awesome.

Yeah. And you know, the team had some ups and downs while you were there, you guys made the playoffs one year. guys had a whole new. Coaching staff that came in. And then in 2013, you made the move to the Seattle Seahawks. And what's one of the first things that you can remember stepping in and enjoying that kind of infamous now infamous locker room.

the culture, you know, going back, talking about going, Oh, it's 16, right. You know, being the first windlass team to, to, to do that. And that was my rookie year. So a lot of, you know, a lot of things going on there, you know, you get drafted, you're excited, but then you go, Oh, you go, Oh, and 16. And trying to find your way through the NFL, then you get to the pinnacle of winning the super bowl.

six years later, you know, And for the longest there, I was the only player that have gone, Oh, is 16 and winning the super bowl. So that just speaks volumes to the, the maturation, I guess. Fortunately for me, it happened in that, in that order. Right. I didn't win the super bowl. Then when I was 16, I went Oh 16 and went in the super bowl.

So walking into that locker room, I mean, the environment is completely different from what I was used to. you walk in and so many different personalities. You talk about Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett. I mean just. Wide range of personalities. And I think that was what was so cool about.

The culture was a coach Carol somehow figured a way to get all these different personalities. Once they cross that football, those football lines, they came in and played for one another. And I would say that was the biggest thing that I picked up when I was there.

Yeah, it's, it's often said that culture stems from the top, and we've heard some really interesting stories and life lessons from, from coach Carroll, but as somebody who played with him for so many years, what are your most memorable experiences or what are your most memorable lessons from him?

You know, the biggest thing with coach Carroll, you know, again, just, just. The energy, and, and I've, I've been around a lot of coaches and you know, most coaches are stern. You know, football coaches are, are, are, are straightened knows militant, Hey, we don't, we only do it one way. And when I got with coach Carroll, the biggest thing that I took from him.

And as I move on and transition to, to build businesses and whatnot was that he was a firm believer of making sure that everybody was comfortable and happy. Right. If you're happy with the situation, you'll go out there and play, and, and understand that that's the game too. And, and having fun doing the, your job, I think is huge.

So the biggest thing from coach Carol was just how much fun we had every day. Not one day while I was here. In Seattle for five years where I just dreaded going to work, or I hated the process on my way home, you know, I'm just mad or anything like that. It was always just a great time. And that's why we were able to play, and have so much success.

Cause we were actually having fun and playing for one another.

Yeah. Yeah. And, and I've heard you say recently, the, despite obviously that positive energy, the, the loss and the Superbowl had a real impact on sort of the trust in the leadership, in that locker room. I mean, this really more from a personal standpoint, when you are a part of those low moments, how do you personally focus in and come back to get the job done?

You know what, that, and this is after the fact that I realized that it kind of affected us, but for me, I mean, I just said it right. I was always 16. And then I lost in the super bowl. So, you know, For me, it's just like, we're going to be back. Like, this is not the worst of the worst. You know, obviously losing the Superbowl is bad.

you you'd never want to get to a space where you lose it, but again, I've seen the bottom in the NFL, you know, and, and losing the super bowl, isn't that bad. And also understanding the talent that I had around me. I felt like we could get back, you know, with, with no issues because everybody was still fairly young.

Everybody had the experience. So for me, it was just, let's keep going, man. We can get back and we can, we can go ahead and try to make this thing a dynasty.

Yeah, it's one of those. I love hearing. Whenever we talk to our guests is that mentality of perseverance, right? We, as, as investors, Tim and I work with entrepreneurs a lot and you know, the number one thing we look for in somebody like that resilience, cause we know the road's not going to be easy. It seems like almost every guest, every athlete that we talk to, they have that story of perseverance, which I think is such a special thing.

You have to, you have to have it. I mean, I honestly don't think if you, if. If you're obviously a quitter, any of that stuff, but if you don't have that one particular trait, I don't think you can be successful in any, any, any sector anywhere. Right? Because there's going to be ups and downs.

There's going to be adversity. There's going to be all kinds of different things that come your way. And it's all about how you react to it. And if you have the right mindset, I think you will have success.

So, you know, a lot of fans and listeners are going to remember that team for the Legion of boom, but looking back at that roster, it's also interesting to see how many of your teammates have been involved in interesting pursuits off the field. You know, Russell Wilson recently sold a company to Nike.

Richard Sherman became a venture capital partner at a firm, and you've made some interesting investments yourself, including. In a former game plan guest, Justin for sets, hustle clean. Tell us a little bit about, the investments you've done, what you find interesting about that space. And, if you also want to talk about hustle clean, we'd love to hear it.


Oh, yeah. So, I mean, honestly the big, the big transition for me in the private equity space was when I moved to Seattle. I mean, Seattle is a, you know, obviously as you guys know, you know, tech savvy, just a lot, a lot of tech, businesses going on around here and, and just getting to rub shoulders with the right people.

I mean, The owner of our team was Paul Allen, you know, Microsoft. So you get to rub shoulders with the right people to get, to meet so many different entrepreneurs that are working on so many different companies and you just gradually get involved in it. And now you find yourself investing, you find yourself wanting to get involved.

And that's kind of been what I've been up to since I, since I moved out here, you know, you talk about hustle, clean with Justin for set. his business has taken off and I love, you know, initially it was called shower pill and they just kind of made the transition, but. You know, just seeing somebody like himself and the transition that he's been able to make, but with a product that is very valuable, especially in a space like right now where, you know, everybody wants to hand sanitizers and different things like that.

Right. but then there's been other companies that I've been fortunate enough to be a part of. top golf being one of them, you know, I was an early investor in top golf booster at booster few. I'm not sure if you guys are familiar with them, but they're a mobile few, a mobile gas station, essentially, they go to a lot of corporate offices and just like your, you know, your Uber, you get on your app and you're able to kind of connect and they'll come fuel, fuel you up, you know, hungry dash radio.

There's a wide range of different. investors that I've made that hopefully here, in the next few years I'll be able to capitalize, but it's more of just diversifying, you know, I, like I said, I love the private equity space and if you love the person that's running the company and you like the company, why not?

and as you think about that locker room, particularly, was there something special about the guys that were there or were there even other players that you reached out to, that you felt like were really read into the space as you started getting more exposure to it and sort of learn more about it?

That was the cool thing about being in, in Seattle. You talk about Richard Sherman, you talk about, you know, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Michael , all these guys. Having invested, Bobby Wagner, another person, all these guys have invested in have been interest into the private equity space with startups in different things like that.

And we would have these conversations during lunch. We would have these conversations, you know, during our free time where, Hey man, you heard about such and such company. What's your thoughts on it? Or. You know, I think I'm thinking about investing in this, where do you, what are your thoughts on it? And we bounce ideas off of each other, but because all of us have a different network, so why not bring it all together?

And I think, I think again, that's what made us so different, not just on the football field, but you know, outside of that locker room.

Yeah, I think it's really interesting. I mean, you know, the warriors in Silicon Valley get plenty of press around all the opportunity there and the things people are doing off the court. But I think Seattle kind of gets overlooked in that regard. I mean, maybe partially because there is no NBA team.

or the NFL season, is maybe relatively short compared to other seasons. And you're just so locked in on a week to week basis. Like that's what the focus is going to be about for everyone in that locker room, as it relates to press inquiries and whatever else is going on, but you bring up a really interesting point.

one of the things that we like to talk about with our guests is the three pillars, that they have while they're still active as a pro athlete and that's team routine and competition. But then when you're no longer playing, you lose all three of those overnight. So first of all, does that ring true for you?

And second of all, how have you been able to fill. Those three different areas of team routine and competition.

No, it's very true. And you gotta be dedicated to all three of those things. Right. and, and with the transition, you know, fortunately for me, now looking back, you know, my injury kind of happened early on in the season, so it happened week four. So it gave me some time to kind of obviously process what's going on and the possibility of not coming back, I was still traveling with the team and different things like that, but I also had more time.

To, you know, do some other things and dive in deeper and build it another small team of people that I can trust in the private equity space or, or whatever direction I was trying to go into. But again, being here in Seattle, so many different companies reached out to me and really honestly offered a job.

You know what I mean? And, and I'm talking about, you know, some Zillow and some of these other companies reached out just to, to. I guess show love for the, for that the super bowl that we brought to the city or whatnot, but. it, it rings true. And then right now it's, it's a process you're continuing to try to, build that team, but the competition piece, whatever you're focused in on, it's still there.

You know, I think as a, as an athlete, you never lose that drive. You just have to redirect it into a different space, a different sector, right? So all those different things still drive me as far as for a routine. You definitely lose that a little bit, but you try to build that as well as you figure out what that next step is and what you want to dive into.

So, yeah. Talking about, the folks that we're reaching out to you, as you were thinking about that next step, and maybe considering, Hey, you know, do I take a job somewhere? What do I do? When did you really start. Angling in on this idea around building a foundation or, or, you know, whatever it was. When did you start really thinking about this is something that appeals to me and I really want to go after it, after my playing career.

You know what I think? I think the biggest thing for me was I was just happy that I had options. Right. You know, a lot of guys retire as of these smaller markets or whatnot. You know, they, they don't necessarily have as many options as say a Seattle, or are you talking about Silicon Valley and all those different things, you know, especially you start winning championships in those cities.

But for me, it was just more of a, just trying to figure out what else you want. The hard part was trying to figure out what else you want to be trying to be great at. Right. what else are you going to focus in on and really give that same attention that you gave football? you know, to that, that particular thing, and a lot of guys kind of shy away from it because of all the hard work that goes into it.

But for me, it was just more of a mental thing of just again, you have what it takes be great. You just got to, again, focus in on a different, you have to just focus and put that energy into something else, and I didn't realize that until I started talking to, like, I would go do speeches at like Microsoft or, DocuSign or different things like that.

And the CEOs were basically telling me the same thing. It's like, Hey. You know, you start listening to their story, like wait up. That's kind of somewhat of the journey that I had it just in, again, a different space. So once I started realize that and understand that. Yeah. You know, it's just about figuring out what that is, and then giving the same energy that you had to that space.

that's really well said, right. As is realizing that you've got the tools that you need all along. It's just about figuring out what it is that you want. And. What you're passionate about, which I think is a, is a really powerful realization. One of those things that you've been really passionate about, has been the charitable missions that you've been doing off the field.

And you were doing them even, you know, when you were a player with the cliff, April family foundation. So tell us a little bit more about the beginnings of that foundation and you know, what the, what the emotion and impetus behind starting that was.

Oh man, the foundation cliff ever family foundation. we created it. I want to say in 2013 to 2014, I'm It was really based off of obviously wanting to give back, you know, as, as an athlete, you're always just trying to find ways to give back. You just everybody's timeline is different.

Some guys started as rookies. Some guys don't start till the fourth, fifth year, whatnot. And for me it just started then because there so many different things going on in my life. I remember just having conversations with my dad. He's like, Hey, you know, well, how are you going to give back? You know what I mean?

And for me, we started off with, diabetes, juvenile diabetes research foundation is one of the JDRF is one of the big, organizations that we've worked with. And the reason I picked juvenile diabetes is. In that I'm Haitian. Both of my parents are Haitian and in the Haitian culture, diabetes is very prevalent.

A lot of people with diabetes due to their diets and different things like that. But then I took it a step further with juvenile juvenile diabetes. Cause I just had my son and me being Haitian. I kind of wanted to make sure, Hey, you know, we're, we're, we're looking out for the younger kids as well. it's just plays a big role in, in society nowadays because a lot of kids aren't as active, right? A lot of kids are playing video games and, and doing what we used to do, but just more of that, less of being out and about. And I just wanted to bring attention to that and getting kids active. And then you dive deeper, you know, I started doing some more work in Haiti.

were building us, we built a elementary school out there that houses 500 kids. And I'm so excited about that because. The things we take for granted now, you know, I have to argue with my kids sometimes to wake up, to go to school. When there's kids that want to go to school, they just don't have the infrastructure to go to school.

Right. So we did, we built schools in Haiti. I do a football camp out there every year. And then one year, actually the year I went to the pro bowl, We, we built homes. I built 25 homes out there, because they had just had a hurricane that, that, that came through and kind of wiped out a lot of people's homes and different things like that.

So we were able to do a wide range of different things. So the foundation is all about giving back, but really geared towards juvenile diabetes.

it's such an important thing for you to recognize and really take a leadership role in. But I'm curious, given that you'd never had a foundation before, this was something new to you. What were some of the things that you learned jumping feet first into it? And what are some of those lessons that you took away from starting this foundation and all the work that you've done with it so far?

Well, first and foremost, it's like running a real life business. Like I didn't think I didn't, I didn't know. It was, you know, just like a business, you know, it was more of, okay, Hey, put some money in the foundation. They enlisted. Figure out where we want to give the money to, or, or who we want to partner up with.

But it's the business side of it, having a really good ed and loser who runs my foundation. She she's essentially the person that runs the day to day and makes things happen. But it's really more of the business side and making sure you're doing it right with the money, because it's not just your money now.

There's a lot of people investing essentially in your vision and what you want to do. So you gotta make sure you do right by that.

Yeah. And what kind of things have you done to help raise additional funds for the foundation? Do you turn to events? Do you know, are you pretty active on the fundraising side or generally focused on applying your own funds?

No, no. Actually we do a annual fundraiser here in Seattle every, every year called dining to make a difference. And it's basically, I say celebrity, I hate calling my friends, celebrities, but a celebrity waiter event where a lot of the guys for Russell Wilson, Marshall, Michael Bennett, Sherman, all those guys come out and they're waiters for the evening.

And you know, people love this stuff and. And then we do a silent auction and a live auction as well to raise money for the foundation. And it's been a huge success over the last few years. I want to say we raised over two me bucks you know, it's just been really good and it's great that the people of Seattle community get behind, you know, our vision and our efforts.

I'm sure the connection that the team has always had with the city, especially since you guys went to the super bowl and had so much success on the field has really helped a lot on the fundraising side.

No question about it. The super bowl definitely helped out big time. And I didn't know this obviously until I want to see how much it means to the city that you win a super bowl. You know, it brings so much business. It brings so many different things to the city and excitement to the fans in that city.

So, you know, a lot of us have, you know, that were on that team fundraising and different things like that. And people support the twelves, the city of Seattle, a lot of the different initiatives that we we're trying to, 

Well, that's a really great thing to hear too. Cause you know, we know how avid and sometimes rabid the, the Seattle fan basis for their teams, but the fact that they, they show up off the field as much as they do when they show up in the stadium.

on the flip side of it, you've also taken. And expanded mission and helping support the Seattle community during the midst of COVID-19. So maybe share a little bit about some of the work that you're doing on that front.

Yes. Yes. you know, the, the COVID-19 situation, , you know, a lot of people are, are obviously a lot of parents aren't working right now.

A lot of kids aren't going to school and a lot of kids in the inner city, unfortunately they depend on those breakfast and lunch from school, you know, so now they're not getting that animal type of their parents aren't working. So for us, it was. It was really important that, that we figured out a way to be able to give back to the city of Seattle, just like they've given back to me and in so many different ways.

So for me, you know, my foundation donated 25,000, not mashed it personally. And we donated 50,000 to about five different organizations throughout Seattle, , that all really are based off of again, helping these kids. we did it one with the boys and girls club of King County. Where, you know, we donated lunch for the, it was for the month of April, you know, it was hoping to, everybody's gonna go back to school and, and the end of April, but for the month of April where we donate lunch and snacks for, you know, well over 200 kids and they also, we donate some money to a few different healthcare organizations that were getting testing that could do testing mobile testing for kids and people around the city as well.

Again, it's just all about giving back. We're in a fortunate space where, where we have a little bit more. then some of these people out here that are, that are struggling right now, so you have to help, out and help the community that helps you out.

Well, it might seem trivial, but this crisis has also meant no sports for fans to get behind. I'd love to shift topics and talk a little bit about the work you've started to do on radio and with your new podcast. What's it been like for you to be seated on the other side of the table as a member of the media?

well, I had my own show, cliff, cliff, and puck show for buddy. Year and a half, we actually just stopped doing that about a month or two ago. Something like that, where, it was a daily show that I enjoyed a lot, you know, it taught me a lot about. you know, different sports, cause I wasn't really into baseball.

So we had to talk about the Mariners, you know, obviously talking about college football with you, dub and all those different things, but diving deeper into just the, the media space in general, where, you know, I'll do spots on ESPN and some of the different outlets. it's, it's been fun. It's been a fun transition.

And I think the reason why I enjoy them. So much is being able to give that athlete's perspective, that guy that's been in the locker room perspective. Now, no knock on any of the folks that haven't done it, but I think, you know, a lot of people want to hear our side of the story as well. And having a voice for those guys, I think is huge.

So it's been great to give that perspective. I've been enjoying the process and I just want to continue to keep growing and building that.

Well, it certainly raised a lot of eyebrows and Tony Romo signed his contract with CVS, which I think was reported to be something like $17 million a year. What did you think about when you saw that and 

Or are there other guys that you're talking to that get excited about that, you know, does it change anything

It definitely doesn't hurt. It definitely doesn't hurt to see it. You know, we, I, yes. I've had conversations. Mike Ben is, my, one of my best friends and we talk about it all the time. You know, it was like, man, it's great to see that, you know, as an athlete, you can transition and get into a different space where.

You can possibly make more money than you actually made when you were playing, you know, and, and that's always been kind of, our mindset is just like, how, how do you figure out, how do you get involved with, other things that don't involve you run into other people, you know, and make a decent amount of money.

So seeing Tony Romo making that kind of money is it's pretty impressive. And it definitely, puts that little carrot in front of a lot of guys that maybe didn't think about the media space. Now they're probably processing it a little bit more now.

Yeah. So do you think you'll stick to radio and studio work or is in game broadcasting? Something that you've thought about getting into. 

It is actually, you know, I've definitely looked at it, but I I'm the type of person, if I'm going to dive into it, I want to definitely go to school and. And, and do my research and start to, you know, pay more attention to it. I don't want to just be just for the  simple fact that, Hey, you're cliff Aero, Hey, the Seahawks got a gig right here and you want to take it.

And I sound terrible. You know, I don't, I don't want to be that guy, but I have definitely thought about it and definitely consider it. And I'm starting to dive deeper into it. And hopefully if a situation like that presents itself, I would definitely take advantage of it.

That was actually going to be my, my sort of followup question there is like, when you jump into something like that. Yeah. Media, what's it like, I mean, what do you, what are you learning? How do you find your footing or did you have to just sort of listen to yourself over time and just get him, you know?

Cause, cause as an athlete you're watching game tape, right? Are you watching game tape of you on the mic and trying to get better? How do you, how do you get better?

Exactly that. No, I'm glad you said that. Like the first three months I would, I would, I would literally, as soon as I left the station, play all back and turn it on, on the radio, on my ride home and just see how I sound do I sound opinionated, you know, just kinda, be the critic to myself, really critiquing everything and just seeing how I just seeing what, hear what everybody else hears, you know what I mean?

And seeing how I can correct those types of things, but yeah, no. When, when, when I dive into it, I definitely want to do my research. I want to make sure I'm on top of it. And honestly, I mean, we all have a little bit of an ego, so you definitely don't want to, you just don't want to sound terrible in front of thousands of people that might be listening.

So yeah, you gotta do your research. And I definitely was doing that, you know, for the first three months, for sure. 

Yeah, I guess on that research piece, I know we talked about it a little bit earlier that you've been getting involved on some private equity investing stuff as well. It seems like digging in doing research, really taking a, you know, measured approach to how you do things is, is sort of your, your mantra, your brand.

So on that private equity side, what kind of research do you do there? What do you look for in those investments that you're getting involved

Oh, well, there's a wide range of different things. I, over the last couple of years, I've been trying to build a team of people that can help me vet them as well. Right. So. fortunately I got with, Mark Petra coffee companies called Petra coffin co they're awesome group of people that are a part of my team that helps me vet a lot of things in the private equity space, but also there, I mean, you got to see who's, who's running it.

What's their motivation. What's their exit plan. I mean, there's a wide range of different things that I try to look for before I even pass it on to them, to vent more into that, that space that they're in, you know, what's their competition and, and all these different things. So, , I like to, I like to dive into it.

I mean, I worked hard for the money, so I gotta make sure I'm invested in things that I truly believe in, but also things I truly believe can give me a return as well.

That's so funny to hear you say that it's a Mark was actually my old boss. We used to work together back in New York. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I'm going to text him and tell him, you said what up after this, but, no, he's. He's he's a great guy. I mean, he's been such a, you know, deep in the media space in New York for so long.

And he's kind of that institution that I think you touched on it, right? Nobody does it without a team. Right. If, even if you're a team owner, you're Mark Cuban, you're investing, Mark's got his own team behind him. So, so why shouldn't you, right. You don't have to be a one man machine. 

No exactly. I don't think you can be successful without it. You know, I think every, every, everybody from Amazon to Bezos, to whoever else, like everybody has a group of people that they can rely on to help them. And, and you have to build your squad of people that, that know more than you obviously. and, and can help you make these types of decisions.

tell us a little bit more about that, because certainly trust is probably the number one factor, right? Like you need to be able to trust these people, but it's also, I imagine challenging being in a position like your super bowl champion, you know, everyone knows your name. We talked to a lot of our guests about like in what other profession, other than.

Maybe the most executive ranks of public companies is like your salary and compensation just clearly out there. How do you build that? Those people around you. Right. And cause it has to go be on trust too. Like you want expertise as well. And another thing we've heard too, which was some good advice from a guest we had was like, you don't necessarily have to have this huge payroll of like 10 people.

You can also just have trusted friends and advisors to, to be able to bounce things off of. So what's that makeup like for you? What are you looking for beyond trust and how are you really vetting those people that you bring into your

you know what I think building just the company you keep, I I'm a firm believer of your network is your net worth, right? The people use circle. You're, you're surrounded with the people you communicate with who your mentors are, different, things like that. And you know, I I've, I've been fortunate enough to connect with so many different individuals that are successful in their field, in their industry.

That. they don't really need anything from me. That's the one thing about being great about being here in Seattle is, you know, most cities, unfortunately, or fortunately, you know, the professional athletes in those cities tend to be the highest earners in those cities and Seattle, we might not come top 5,000.

You know what I'm saying? So, you can talk to these people and there's no, financial gains for them. You know, they don't necessarily. Whenever he made that, that doesn't, you know, that doesn't affect how they move. So I think just that by itself has helped me out tremendously being here in Seattle and being able to listen to people that have way more than me, that don't necessarily, they genuinely just want to help.

They don't necessarily need the, to, to make things happen from a financial standpoint.

Well, thanks for sharing all of this amazing stuff that you've you've been doing. one thing we love to ask is what you're most excited about next.

Oh man, excited about a wide range of different things, you know? but the biggest thing I would say is, is what this media career looks like. you know, I I'm interested in. And excited about it. Just see if I can, you know, jump into it and hopefully have some success with it. But also, you know, I do a lot of real estate stuff too.

So yes, I'm a little bit of everywhere, but real estate is, is one of the things that I've been excited about. I've been doing for a long time. And I just want to build that portfolio as well. So I'm excited about both challenges, different challenges, but both.

you certainly don't shy away from those challenges. Right? You're exploring all the stuff that's out there, which I think, I mean, that, that's a great thing for us to hear is that you've got a wide range of opportunities and possibilities, as you said earlier. Right. And right now it's just about you figuring out what's right for you.

I'd like to ask what sort of amounts to our closing question that we'd like to ask all of our guests. Because we know that the people listening to the show are not just business people and entrepreneurs, but are also, you know, professional athletes, college athletes that are thinking about their life outside the game.

So we'd love to ask you cliff, April, what is some advice that you would have for them as they start thinking about life outside

Starting to network now, like when you're, when you're out, when you're out of the game, it's a different ball game. So, starting a network now, Y you know, the one thing I think athletes should take advantage of that are especially professional athletes. Is right now in whatever city you're in. You can talk, you probably have a conversation with any CEO of any company right now.

Right? So those doors are wide open for you. So take advantage of those opportunities, build those relationships, genuine relationships and everything. Things will flourish from there, but yeah, just, just network and build those relationships. And I think everything else played itself out.

Well, that's phenomenal advice, man. And as you know, that network compounds, right? The more people you add, the more opportunities you have. And so the earlier you start with that network, the more opportunity that, that there is for you. Well, cliff that's phenomenal advice and we are just so grateful for your time and your energy today.

We can't wait to see all the amazing things that you do with the foundation, with the media career, and even with some investing along the way. So you've got a lot of things ahead of you. We're excited to stay in touch with you, and we want to just thank you so much for being on the game plan with us.

Man. I appreciate you guys having me. I think this is a great platform to show athletes in a different, in a different light. continue to keep up the great work.

Thanks cliff.

That was fun. I appreciate it.

Thank you.

At the end of every episode, Jay and I like to recap what we heard and share our own thoughts on the things our guests are doing off the field. We call this segment, our partner meeting a term. We borrow from the meetings we have when evaluating investment opportunities at our respective funds. So between his foundation is investing in his media interest cliff, April's keeping busy.

Jay, what are you taking away from our conversation with cliff?

Tim, the number one thing that I really liked and was so inspired by, in that conversation with cliff was just his curiosity and the amount of time and energy he puts into researching everything that he's getting involved in. you heard him talk about it with his media endeavors, where it was, you know, watching game tape to all the investing that he wants to get involved in, whether it's real estate or private equity.

And him really, , not only digging into it himself, but also reaching out to individuals, whether it was in the locker room when he was playing or now whether it's business personalities to reach out to them to say, Hey, I want to learn this. And you know, yeah, I've got the money and I can go and do the investing and I could go put my money anywhere, but I want to learn from you how to do it the right way.

And I think that attitude. Is something that is really going to serve him. Well, no matter what lane he chooses, right. He's keeping busy with a bunch of different things. If he doubles down on a lane and really goes after it, that curiosity and that attitude is going to serve him super well. So I was just really inspired by that and just hearing him articulate it so well.

yeah, certainly curious, but also to your point, like very pragmatic and determined on what he was going to do. And so like explore something a little bit and if it's something I want to dig deeper and I will, I'm going to find the right team. He kept saying that like find the right people find the right team.

So I appreciated his response on that, about. You know, we've heard it before. I think he, maybe even the same quote about your network is your net worth. And it's also interesting. He's the fourth guest we've had with connections to Seattle. And I think at least in the sports world, , it can get forgotten some times when compared to like, Silicon Valley and how all of the warriors players got involved with investing and connected to VCs out there.

But we've heard it time and time again, like there's plenty of wealthy people and successful companies in Seattle. And, you know, in some cases, these people are making more money than the athletes. And so he talked about that as it related to his foundation. And you know, what a boon that has been for his foundation and how, Seattle's always been there for his foundation and now with COVID-19 and the things they've been able to do through that, it's been great how they can show up for Seattle.

think, I think there's a, there's a couple of interesting points there. One is. Yeah, absolutely. Right. Is looking at that relationship with the community in a symbiotic sense. And you heard them talking about that upfront too, which is like, Hey, it's really great to see families in Seattle coming together.

It's great to see the community in Seattle supporting each other. And then obviously everything that cliff and his foundation are doing. To support the community. On the other side, I think the other interesting thing that you mentioned there about Seattle being a little bit overlooked, , part of it is obviously because you know, there isn't an NBA team.

There, there is the Seahawks obviously, and there is obviously all this tech money that's around it. , but unlike a golden state or unlike New York and Brooklyn, and, you know, even unlike LA, , where these large markets have. Multiple different teams across multiple different sports. Seattle is sort of tucked away and its own and its own space.

Right. There are multiple teams in LA, San Francisco and New York, and Seattle's got just the one in every sport and, you know, the one that they don't anymore. And so, , I think maybe that's part of the reason why it's overlooked is just, there's a lower volume of people. But I think the other thing is also that like the, the kind of, I guess the way I'm trying to phrase it is like, it's a little bit like old money.

Like it's, it's Microsoft, it's Boeing, it's like old tech money, which is maybe a little bit quieter and a little bit sort of, you know, go about your business, get it done. You know, dot com tech 1.0 and Silicon Valley, New York and LA that's new tech money and that's that's thirties and forties versus fifties and sixties.

And so I think the way that these folks carry themselves a little bit is different too.

Well, yeah. Even with like ownership, , Paul Allen rest in peace, but if there was some dynamic tech founder, even if like Bezos was. The owner of the Seahawks, it would probably change the dynamic and the attention paid to that organization in terms of like off the field exploits. So that's an interesting point you make there.

Another thing that came up, which we haven't talked about explicitly, but I think is interesting is how much on field success really does tie to the opportunities you get off the field and. We can certainly talk about that as an individual and what that creates. I think those examples are pretty obvious, but to be able to say like super bowl champion bef you know, NBA champion, you know, like does the sixth man of an NBA team, that's not a champion have the same kind of attention as like Andre Iguodala did when he was with the warriors.


well, do you mean off the field success or do you mean new contract success? Cause there are two different things, right? Being the Dean, the sixth man or being, you know, one of the guys on the Legion of boom, even if you weren't Richard Sherman or Bobby Wagner or cliff Avril, but you're one of the guys in the Legion of boom.

Are you saying that translates into more success in the next team or contract you get, are you saying a translate into more success on your off the field opportunities?

Basically the point I'm trying to make and bring up is like he had talked about how, like with their fundraisers and stuff, like the 12th man shows up and whatever. But if, and Seattle has always had passionate fans for the football team, but like, have they not been the Legion of boom super bowl champion, Legion of boom, like, is there as much

excitement about him now, if he was on now's team versus the

I think it's about the, the phrasing is bringing a championship to a city. Like, I think that's the thing. It's not just about being any super bowl champion, but it's like, especially if you like the folks in the Kansas city squad, like, I would love to talk to somebody who's on this KC squad.

Cause it's been 50 years. Right. 

. I think another interesting point that I kind of thought of as cliff was talking about the success of his foundation and how the 12th man shows up is what an impact it can have for your off field interests or efforts.

When you're part of a team that brings a championship to a city. So super bowl champion, cliff Avril, you know, he's got his other Superbowl teammates there. It's just such a deeper bond. And obviously as a fan, you're so much more connected to those teams as well, that it just lasts long. You want, you want to get that feeling back?

Not just as a player, but like the fans want to get that feeling back to, so you know that I know the media always talks about it in terms of like ranking on court. And on-field success and like who was better? Oh, it's all about the championships in the rings, but I think it gets forgotten sometimes that that also just has like a massive impact for the rest of your life.

and your relationship with fans, which also explains too, like why he ended up really digging his roots and staying in Seattle after he

Yeah. I mean, T to your point, like the network compounds, when you bring a Superbowl championship to a city, right? You get invited to speak at Zillow or Microsoft or any of these places. And for him, what that opportunity unlocked for him was a little bit of that. Like, You don't want to say imposter syndrome, but whatever that feeling was of like, Oh, these CEOs, the challenges that they faced, it's not unlike the challenges that I faced.

Obviously, you know, they're at the top of their field, I'm at the top in mind, but it was almost like him finding kindred spirits in the tech and business world and realizing that like, Oh, it's, it's not that different for me. Right. I'm sure it wasn't the other way around. I'm sure the CEOs weren't like, well, Hey, I could probably go and sack, you know, a quarterback tomorrow, but at least for him, it was realizing that he already had all of the tools.

He needed to find success in the business world. And there's almost like a, there's a beautiful sentiment about that, which is like sometimes your biggest adversary, your biggest challenges in your own head. And I think him bringing a super bowl to a city, having those opportunities come into him.

Actually helped them unlock a really important piece of himself, which is to say, I'm going to be fine, whatever I go do after this, I'm going to be fine. I already have the tools that I need. So I loved hearing that story from him, which I think was really great.

but think about too, like how much that success frees you up to be able to go do those things. Like when we talk to Trevor Booker and he talked about, he had some feeling that the team was worried about some of his business interests off the court, and that was maybe affecting his play, like. We did talk about like on an individual basis, if you know, he was putting up 40 and 20 a night, you know, something ridiculous.

Like nobody would be questioning anything, but it also goes for like a team success too. Like if the team was running through the playoffs and winning championships, nobody's asking, Hey, like, okay, you know, should they be doing this other stuff? You know, should they be active as venture investors? Or should they really be getting involved in this business or are they doing too many endorsements?

It all goes away. When there's, you know, when you you're

yeah. It's it's

which I don't know. I mean, do you think that's fair?

I don't think it's fair, but I think that's, that's just human bias, right? like we as investors, we, as human beings are bad at decoupling luck and skill. Right. So we see something working really well. And then we reverse engineer the success based on that.

Right. Cause it's always easier in hindsight. So you're like, Oh, they're having all this success. It must be because there's a great culture. And the great culture is because Pete Carroll isn't, you know, hounding these guys, unlike those other coaches. But it's like, you know what? It could be a totally other thing, but we on the outside of reverse engineering it.

So I think it's in the same way. Yeah. If somebody isn't having success on the field, It could be for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with their off the field endeavors. But, you know, the, the media pundits are going to reverse engineer a narrative. That makes sense. So, yeah, I mean, I don't think it's fair, but I, I think it's human, right.

That's sort of what we do is we try to describe meaning in hindsight, when we don't actually know what's going on.

Yeah, well, I think that's a. Fun thing to leave our listeners with for them to move you think about. And then we get some feedback on their takes on that and incorporate into future episodes. But Jay, appreciate you joining me with cliff Avril this week. I'll see you next time on the game plan. So that's it for this week's episode of the game plan with Jacob  and Tim cot as always. Thanks so much for listening. We really enjoyed having cliff Avril on the show. Make sure to follow cliff on Twitter and Instagram. And if you've made it this far, congratulations, you must really like what we have to say.

Find us on Twitter at the game plan show and leave us a five star review on iTunes. We'll see you next week on the game plan.