Are you already done hearing about the Week 17 pregame storyline that centers around Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett? I hope not, because it’s just getting rebooted on Friday thanks to both players holding media sessions earlier in the day. As it turns out, Garrett will be a Browns team captain On Sunday as the team’s head coach Kevin Stefanski announced that on Friday during his media session.
“I do not normally announce captains, but I am going to have Myles Garrett be the captain this weekend,” Stefanski said on Friday. “I do not want that to be misconstrued. It is a big game, so I am sending the big guy out there, but it is in no way a call back to anything previously, so I just wanted to make sure that is clear.”
Not surprisingly, Stefanski was quickly asked to talk more about his decision to name Garrett a team captain ahead of a game that includes the defensive end right in the middle of a semi-controversial pregame storyline because of his violent actions late in last year’s game against the Steelers and Rudolph. Stefanski just brushed the question off.
“Just every week kind of look at who has done it and who has not been one yet,” Stefanski said. “Again, it is a big game so might as well send Myles out there.”
Predictably, Garrett was also asked during his Friday media session about him being named team captain for Sunday’s game against the Steelers, which will feature Rudolph making his first start of the season in place of resting starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“It kind of just worked out this way,” Garrett said. “I wanted to be the captain for the Cowboys game, me being from Dallas, and that kind of slipped the Coach’s mind. And he asked me what game I wanted to be captain for, and I was like, ‘I want to be captain for the last one.’ I knew it would be a big game for us. It was kind of early on, but I kind of ended up being right. This is a playoff game for us. If we win, we will be looking at a rematch with them [the Steelers] so this is a big one.”
Later during his media session, Garrett was asked to comment on him being named captain close to his birthday, which was December 29th and with it also coinciding with the other news on that day that Rudolph would be starting on Sunday for the Steelers.
“It did not cross my mind on my birthday,” Garrett said. “I was just having a good day with my parents and my friends. I think you all might have seen the cake that I received from someone special to me. I never thought about football on that day. I am pretty sure it was on Tuesday, and I try to keep my personal life to me on those days. Wednesday through Sunday, that is when I focus on football. When I heard about Mason being the quarterback, that did not change anything for me. It is just playing the Steelers. No matter who they put out there, we have to go out there and win.”
In case you’re curious, it doesn’t sound like Garrett and Rudolph will faceoff pregame during the coinflip. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN on Friday, a veteran on the team will likely be a Steelers team captain on Sunday and not Rudolph. Even if that’s the case, Garrett was also asked on Friday to address Rudolph saying during his own media session that he would gladly hear out the Browns defensive end should he want to reach out to him before or after Sunday’s game.
“I have no problem reaching out to him or talking to him before or after the game,” Garrett said. “I would never say I am smack talking during the game. I will just enjoy it. I will go out there and play the best I can. At the end of the day, it is not me versus him. It is me versus their line and the Steelers versus the Browns. If he wants to talk after the game, talk before the game or whatever happens, let it come naturally. I do not think anybody has any problems with each other. Just have to go with the flow.”
Garrett also made it clear on Friday that he won’t be hesitant or cautious about possibility getting a penalty on Sunday just because Rudolph is quarterbacking the Steelers.
“Get out of here with that,” Garrett said. “That will not run through my mind at all. He can get hit just like everybody else. I am not going to put a pillow underneath his head before I take him to the ground, but I am not going to do anything extra. It is just a game. It is a Steelers game. This is a divisional game. It is an important game, like I have said.”
While Garrett’s not afraid to hit Rudolph on Sunday in Cleveland, he’s also not afraid to help the Steelers young quarterback up off the ground should the opportunity present itself during the game.
“Going against him [Rudolph], it changes nothing for me,” Garrett said. “Just like with any other player and any other quarterback, if he reaches out his hand for me to help him up, I am going to do it. If I see him and he is on the ground, it does not change my mindset at all with him back there. I do not think that my presence will do anything different for him. Just go out there and play like we always have.”