Myles Garrett has returned to the Cleveland Browns — and the NFL’s trenches — with a vengeance.
Nearly a year after an ugly brawl upended his career, Garrett is again playing at a high level and proving why the Browns paid him big money this past offseason.
For a while, though, even Garrett wasn’t sure if he’d play again. In an interview earlier this year, Garrett opened up about the possibility of him retiring and leaving the Cleveland Browns behind.
Myles Garrett is among the NFL’s best pass-rushers
The Cleveland Browns, fresh off a 1-15 season in 2016, took a major risk selecting Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett with the first overall pick in 2017.
Teams rarely take defensive players with the first overall pick unless they’re generational talents or unless the team is lacking common sense. So far for the Browns, it appears their investment in Garrett has paid off.
Garrett had seven sacks and nine tackles for loss in 11 games as a rookie, although Cleveland famously ended the year 0-16. Garrett broke out in 2018, though, recording 13.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, 12 tackles for loss, and 29 quarterback hits.
Those numbers earned Garrett a spot in the Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
With 10 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles through 10 games last year, Garrett again appeared headed for Pro Bowl and All-Pro status. Then came the final seconds of a 21-7 victory over Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 14, 2019.
Garrett was involved in an ugly brawl last year
Regardless of what side fans or media members took, the general consensus was that the 2019 fight between Cleveland and Pittsburgh was one of the ugliest moments in recent NFL history.
In the closing seconds of a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Myles Garrett knocked Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph to the ground. When Rudolph pulled at Garrett’s helmet, the two became wrapped up in a brawl which quickly went viral.
Garrett, at one point, ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and swung it at the quarterback. The helmet struck Rudolph in the head and left him bloody.
Garrett, who is Black, alleged Rudolph, who is white, called him a racial slur. The NFL found no evidence of that being the case, however.
Garrett received an indefinite suspension and a $45,623 fine. It wasn’t until February 2020, shortly after the Super Bowl, that the NFL reinstated Garrett.
Myles Garrett admitted he nearly retired after the brawl
Although the NFL eventually reinstated Myles Garrett, there was a very real chance he had played his final down in the league.
That isn’t speculation or an exaggeration, either. In an interview with The Plain Dealer earlier this year, Garrett admitted he nearly retired following the brawl and its fallout.
The questions Garrett asked himself during that time, however, led him back to football.
“What was I going to be? Who am I at the end of the day? Was I still going to be giving without football without that kind of income coming in? Was I still going to take those trips to see people, was I still going to give back to charities, was I still going to give clothing and shoes to schools around me, to coaches that have impacted me. All of these things were on my mind.”
Garrett appears to have made the right choice. He signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Browns in July which will keep him in Cleveland through 2026, his age-30 season.
Garrett opened the 2020 season with a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in his first two games.
CBS Sports credited Garrett with 14 quarterback pressures in the first two weeks. Only Chargers star defensive end Joey Bosa (17) had more; Garrett and Steelers pass-rusher Bud Dupree each tied for second place.