Myles Garrett was named a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro for his performance during the 2020 season for the Cleveland Browns, during which he recorded 48 tackles, 12 sacks, and four forced fumbles in 14 games. He missed two games during the year while on the Reserve/COVID-19 List in weeks 11 and 12, but at the time was leading the league in sacks.
The fifth-year veteran was even voted 16th in the league during the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players list, just fourth among all defenders behind Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, and Jalen Ramsey. In his mind, that’s not good enough. In fact, it was “absolutely” a slight, he told the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich.
“Whether I finished the year or not, the year I was having before COVID was dominant”, he said. “And afterward, I should have and could have done better. I didn’t come back how I wanted to, feeling how I was supposed to, but I can’t make excuses for that. I’ve just got to take care of myself, and I get that”.
Garrett is among the most high-profile athletes who have been open about experiencing some not insignificant side effects of COVID-19, having previously talked about not feeling himself until long after the season was over. He believes the virus limited him for the remainder of his season.
“The guys who were in the talks to win DPOY, Watt and Donald, great players, but I was right among them before I was hit with COVID. They didn’t get it”, he said. “They were on the field, and they took care of themselves. That’s on me for not doing that — however I got it — and I’ve got to make sure I’m available this year for my team, for the individual goals that I have and for whatever run we’ll have in the playoffs”.
That is behind him now, though, and he’s looking to establish himself as the best defender in the NFL—maybe even to prove that the is the LeBron James of football for Cleveland. “I have to prove that I’m LeBron first before anything”, he said, as he hopes, like the basketball superstar, to bring a long-sought championship to the city. “I have to prove that I’m the playmaker at all levels. Hell, he’s top three in any debate that you have”.
Garrett was the first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He has made the Pro Bowl twice, and would have easily done so in 2019 had he not gotten himself suspended for assaulting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph for the final six games.
To date, he has recorded 42.5 career sacks in 51 games played, with 83 quarterback hits, 152 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 10 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and six passes defensed. He has taken steps each year to continue to round out his game.
Now they’ve surrounded him with more talent than he’s ever had, including offseason additions of Jadeveon Clowney, John Johnson III, Greg Newsome II, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, among others. He and his coaches believe this could take him to a whole new level. and well clear of the 16th spot in the NFL Top 100 List.