Team sports certainly are weird at times. While the broad draw is the fact that it unites people to a common goal, the reality is that it remains a conglomeration of unique individuals who will, often times, anyway, express themselves free of the broader constraints of the team concept, going ‘off-message’.
Cue Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who may soon be claiming that he was misquoted. Just shortly after new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters that he addressed Myles Garrett’s head-smashing incident against the Pittsburgh Steelers with his team before the season even started, the running back had an interesting remark when speaking to reporters today.
After striking Mason Rudolph in the head with the quarterbacks’ own helmet last season, Garrett was indefinitely suspended for at least the remainder of the 2019 season. While he would only remain suspended through the end of the year, consisting of six games, his reinstatement was largely predicated upon the league’s assessment of his personal growth.
Earlier today, Hunt told reporters that he and Garrett bonded since his suspension over their ‘shared adversity’, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com put it. Hunt served an eight-game suspension to start the 2019 season after being seen hitting a woman in a hotel lobby on video. Not exactly the source of commonality I would want to have with somebody.
“This one’s for Myles”, Hunt told reporters, referring to the Browns’ upcoming game against the Steelers Sunday, the first for Garrett back on the field against Pittsburgh since his suspension. “I know what it’s like to not be able to finish a season”, he added. Then a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, he was released mid-season in 2018 after the video surfaced. Many at the time questioned whether he should ever be employed by an NFL team again.
Now the Browns employ two players whom many questioned whether or not they should be given the opportunity to make millions for playing a game. And they’ve found a mutual bond with one another because of this ‘adversity’.
Virtually the only Browns player who ever really acknowledged the wrong of Garrett’s actions was quarterback Baker Mayfield, who delivered a pretty clear message during a post-game interview in condemning his conduct.
By and large, the rest of his teammates and coaches and the organization have had his back and defended him at every turn. When the Browns hired Hunt, they said repeatedly that he would be on a short leash. Nobody ever said anything like that about Garrett. In fact, they made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history (though he was quickly superseded by Joey Bosa’s deal.
What cannot be denied, however, is that Garrett is a great player on the field, which is the biggest reason that the Browns are in a position to play this game ‘for Myles’. If he were a lesser player, he most certainly would have been shown the door some time ago.