When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers their young pass rushers need not look far for inspiration. They have Joey Porter as their position coach, and James Harrison, the organization’s all-time leading sack recorder, is ever-present in their meeting room, on the practice field, and in games on Sundays, even at the age of 39.
It would be hard to argue that young pass rushers for the Cleveland Browns have the same sort of resources at their disposal. While I’m sure that their coaching staff is perfectly fine, it is more difficult to draw motivation from somebody who is merely a coach.
But first-overall draft pick Myles Garrett is hoping that a former pass-rushing great will be his secret weapon as he looks to make good on his draft position and prove that he was deserving of being considered the best player entering the 2017 NFL Draft. He is hoping to have Bruce Smith as his mentor.
The man who has recorded more sacks than any other player in NFL history just so happens to hail from the same area of Virginia as Garrett’s mother, and the NFL Players Association helped facilitate their meeting. Smith visited the young man prior to the NFL Draft at his Texas home and reviewed game tape with him, offering his wisdom.
The Browns rookie is not taking the opportunity for granted.
“He’s willing to be a helping hand anytime I need it, so I know coming up soon, as soon as I get this couple days under my belt to see what the game is like, see what the pace is, I’ll just pick his brain and see what he can offer”, Garrett recently told reporters during training camp, according to Ohio.com.
As for his part, Smith said that the young man’s reaching out is “a great sign of him embracing this process”, adding that “the organization and the fans should be encouraged”.
He added that he intends to pay a visit to Cleveland’s training camp soon, coordinating it for perhaps next week. Smith is already familiar with some of the Browns’ coaching staff, including Head Coach Hue Jackson.
Garrett said that while he intends to some day be in the Hall of Fame, as is his mentor, he does not want to pay a visit to Canton—at least not just yet. He doesn’t believe he has earned it.
“I don’t feel like I’m worthy to be able to go in there and see guys who played 10, 12, 15, 20 years and gave their all to the game”, he said. “I haven’t even played my first game yet. So once I get a taste and maybe feel like I deserve to even walk among those guys, then that’s different. I deserve to be among the pros, but the real greats of the game who laid the groundwork and the foundation, that’s something different”.