If there was one silver lining for Myles Garrett in his suspension, it was that when the Cleveland Browns came to Pittsburgh for the first time to face the Steelers after he smashed their quarterback over the head with the man’s own helmet, he was nowhere in sight to hear the vitriol he would have received from the crowd.
The circumstances will be different this year, but the end result may be the same. While he will be on the field for the Browns when the Steelers host them in the middle of October, there is a pretty reasonable chance that Pittsburgh will not be permitted to host fans for the game. And if they do, it would only be a fraction of the stadium.
“I guess it won’t bother me too much because they won’t have many fans this year — or any — considering what’s going on in the world”, he told Cleveland.com about going to Pittsburgh for the first time since that incident. “But years down the line, it won’t bother me”.
Not that that was his focus. While he has worked this offseason to better himself and not allow one mistake during one moment of his life define him—the way that it defines him for many Steelers fans, as the comments to yesterday’s article indicate—he knows he dropped the ball.
“I did let them down as a leader and a teammate”, he said. “I allowed the situation to escalate more than it should’ve and there were ways that it could’ve been handled, it should’ve been handled and it wasn’t. I let everybody in the organization down because they know I’m better than that and I didn’t prove it and if one of those situations happen again or something similar, just an escalating situation like that, I just have to prove that I’m bigger than that”.
Not even 24 hours after the incident, the NFL handed down an indefinite suspension for Garrett, to encompass at least the remainder of the season (six games), which was the largest suspension for a single on-field incident in the history of the league. He was fully reinstated for the 2020 season, and later Cleveland gave hi ma massive new contract extension, but he knows he can’t afford any missteps.
On his new windfall, however, he doesn’t plan on hoarding it. “I wouldn’t want to receive all of this and keep it to myself”, he said. “There are people who deserve a second chance, who deserve an opportunity to have their voice heard, an opportunity to do something great for the world and there are things that are holding them back either physically, emotionally or monetarily and I want to be there for them”.
While there is no defense for Garrett’s actions, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that wondered how completely different Steelers fans’ reactions would be if he were a member of their own team. Would they paint him as a habitually violent person and a liar whose actions are merely an extension of his nature? Or would they say that he made a mistake, and that he believes he heard what he heard, even if he didn’t—and that it was never supposed to be public knowledge in the first place?