Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has come a long way from November 14, 2019.
For everyone who needs a refresher, this was the night that Garrett was suspended by the league for the rest of the season after he ripped off the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and swung it as a weapon as Rudolph charged him.
The details of this situation are still unclear. Garrett accused Rudolph of using a racial slur during the game, which caused him to react that way. Rudolph denied that he ever uttered the slur.
Regardless of the circumstances, the optics of Garrett swinging that helmet and connecting with the top of Rudolph’s head will never leave the mind of some NFL fans. The action itself was extremely reckless and dangerous and everyone involved is lucky that Garrett didn’t seriously injure Rudolph.
Yet, for Garrett, that one mistake in a heated divisional game was never a true representation of his character.
He’s far from the nefarious villain some NFL fans have tried to cast him as.
The Pro Bowler is now being honored for his hard work in the community. Today, he was selected as the Walter Payton Award nominee for the Browns. The award is given to the player who best exemplifies their dedication to their community off the field.
Garrett is now the captain of the NFL Waterboys, the same initiative that he worked with to give African communities clean water. He also pledged $5,000 per sack he makes this season to the organization in hopes of funding 16 wells throughout this season.
The defensive end has also made an impact in the realm of racial and social justice. Garrett spearheaded a social justice leadership committee for Browns’ players to address racial and educational divides in the country.
Garrett also paid for the funeral costs of Louisville resident David McAtee, a black BBQ chef who was shot by Kentucky law enforcement on June 1 in wake of protests following the murder of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Police.
The nomination is well deserved for Garrett, who last year at this time was arguably the least-liked NFL player in the league.
The NFL will announce the winner during Super Bowl week. This year’s winner will receive a $250,000 donation to his charity of choice. The other finalists will get up to $50,000 for their charity of choice as well.
Garrett never deserved to be vilified for his mistake on that November night just over a year ago, but it is nice to see the negative narrative surrounding the young player finally start to dissipate.