Demands are upon athletes to be genuine, yet those players who dare speak candidly are torn apart even when their comments were made in jest. Myles Garrett, defensive end from Texas A&M, is the latest victim of the societal pressure to shame unjustifiably rather than enjoying the playfulness of the context as we descend towards a humorless abyss. The projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft had the audacity to express his desire to play for his favorite childhood team. Pitchforks must be sharpened. Torches lit. On we march towards our social media outlets to protest this crime!
The ire drawn by many was due to a video release from ESPN of Garrett smiling and laughing as he begged Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to trade up to the first overall pick with the Cleveland Browns. Garrett grew up in Arlington, Texas – the location of AT&T Stadium.
ESPN failed to note they were leveraging the video clip in order to create their own news on an otherwise slow sports weekend. February 10, 2017, was the first time ESPN disseminated the video. There was no notice the clip was from an awards show banquet on December 8, 2016, until the initial video had gone viral. WFNY has covered clickbait and fake news in recent weeks; this case was a combination of the two as ESPN generated their own news cycle. ESPN masterfully can create controversy and have enough weight to create synergy of diversified opinions to both destroy and defend an item of interest. All while collecting ratings and clicks. It is as disgusting as it is effective.
Projected No. 1 pick Myles Garrett makes a plea to the Dallas Cowboys to trade up and select him.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 10, 2017
The impetus for ESPN releasing the old clip might have been the build up towards an impending lack of anticipation for the first overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. A grand consensus has developed that Myles Garrett has established himself as the best player in this class. Garrett has indicated he would rather spend the night of the draft home surrounded by friends and family than participate in the ceremony in New York City.
He also believed he had laid to rest another old playful quote that was brought up constantly in attempts to drum up conflict. He was asked during the season where he would prefer to play in the NFL. Despite clarifying the notation with points he would play anywhere, many news stations ran with the portion that he preferred to stay out of the cold. Here is the full quote as reported by the Houston Chronicle. “Doesn’t matter … but I’d like not to go anywhere cold,” Garrett said, smiling. “Whoever picks me up, I’m going to try and play my best for, to be the best player on the field at any given time. It doesn’t matter who picks me up, I’m going to try and be a franchise player for them.”
On February 8, 2017, Garrett once again clarified that he would play for whoever drafted him, and he would give that team his all. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported out the meat of the quote which said “Relax,” he said. “I want to be the greatest player who has ever been at my position, the greatest player who has ever played. I have to pass up [Tom] Brady now, but no matter what team that is, I’m going to give my all.”
Ignoring this while focusing on the Cowboys plea is some high-level disingenuousness. https://t.co/jxkFH9DP16
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) February 11, 2017
None of the cold weather comments would have stuck if Garrett had stuck with his first choice for college. He was set to accept an offer from the Ohio State University due to their renowned paleontology program paired with the high-profile football team. His sister, a high-profile athlete herself, convinced Garrett to follow her to Texas A&M instead. ESPN reported the footnote in his history during his breakout under the direction of head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Sumlin remembers Garrett favoring another school before he decided to choose Texas A&M.
“Ohio State,” Garrett recalled on Tuesday.
“Paleontology,” said Garrett, the perpetual dinosaur lover.
There is no doubt Garrett is different from his peers. He deactivated all of his social media accounts in order to have more time to focus on things that matter. He prefers face-to-face interactions with handshakes and hugs. Garrett is an avid reader, who writes his own poetry. The 12th Man Foundation asked him if he misses the digital side of college life. “I don’t miss (social media) at all,” Garrett said. “It causes too much drama. Getting rid of it didn’t take away from my days, and it actually opened up more things for me to do and be productive.”
Garrett has an intensity inside him he preserves for the field and the weight room as he told USA Today. His body appears more natural on the pages of a comic book than on an actual person. The athleticism he demonstrates on the field blends quickness, speed, and pure strength with his well-developed football instincts. Jevon Kearse, JaDaveon Clowney, and Julius Peppers have been thrown around as possible comparisons though there are some who believe Garrett’s overall potential exceeds them all.
Garrett writes poetry about “anything I’m feeling. Love. Happiness. Sadness.” He reads voraciously; on his nightstand recently: Dark Rivers of the Heart, by Dean Koontz and Freaky Deaky, by Elmore Leonard. He sketches “people, places, animals, anything that pops into my mind.”
Garrett says. “As soon as I step off, I go back to who I’ve always been. It kind of throws them off, how I transition from going onto the field and I’ve got to turn into a leader and be this aggressive guy, and then I turn into this goofy kid who listens to all kinds of music.”
Garrett’s other passion in life is humanitarian efforts such as when a group of Aggies took a faith-based mission to Haiti over the summer. When Hurricane Matthew hit this past fall, Garrett took time out of a postgame presser to call for action when he said “For all those affected with Hurricane Matthew, I wanted to say can you give whatever you have supporting and praying for them — those in Florida and those in Haiti. Can just pray for them and support Mission of Hope?”
Haiti is not a isolated occurence. Garrett often speaks how he feels it is his mission to help others, and his actions confirm his heart. Many athletes tour hospitals and donate their time and money to charity. Some go a step beyond. When he is at philanthropic events, Garrett doesn’t just “get through” them. He spends time with people, finds common ground, gets to know them, and leaves a positive impression. The Houston Chronicle encapsulated this aspect of him when it covered his visit to a local children’s hospital.
Garrett’s father watched with pride as his son took his time and care on the visits, often falling behind while chatting as the accompanying group finally moved on. “These are the things that make me happy,” said Lawrence, like Myles a strapping man in great shape. “Myles is like his mother, he’s never met a stranger.”
The upcoming NFL Draft has many players with worrisome character such as Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook, and Teez Tabor, but do not project such onto Garrett. Garrett does not drink, does not smoke or abuse any substance, and is not followed by TMZ. He is a bit of a goofball who will pose with a silly face and a crop top jersey to make teammates laugh. He spends his free time reading, writing poetry, and devoting himself to humanitarian causes. He is gracious and considerate to others. He does not have questionable decision-making or a red flags associated to him because he made the playful video as some have claimed since the ESPN release.
Garrett is setup to dominate the competition on the field and help others off it. He will make the Cleveland faithful proud to have him don the orange helmet, so embrace all of the aspects of wonderfulness that is Myles Garrett.