Gearing for Greatness

 

The sports world spins on an axis that is different from the real world. In the real world, all places experience light by day and stars at night. It is a cycle that repeats itself over and over again. In the sports world, as the saying goes, “ the sun does not shine on the same dog’s behind every day.“ Thankfully, the bright light of the sports universe shines on Arlington, Texas, a lot. The presence of three professional sports teams and some awesome venues help attract that light. But last month, an unexpected light shone on Arlington when the NFL conducted the annual draft.

The draft was held in Philadelphia, and, as expected, the first player taken was Arlington’s own Myles Garrett. Most often the players who are expected to go very high in the draft are at draft headquarters, where they can meet with representatives of their new team and they can meet the media.

Not Myles Garrett.

This remarkably talented young man was right here in Arlington at Tierra Verde Golf Course when his name was called. It wasn’t like his name being called was a surprise. In fact, one of the great moments of the evening happened just after the Cleveland Browns selected Myles first overall. While still on the phone with the team, Myles removed his dress shirt to reveal that he was wearing a Cleveland Browns undershirt.

Myles comes from an incredibly athletic family. His mother

Audrey was an All-American in the 60-meter hurdles at Hampton in 1982. His brother Sean Williams was a first round pick of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets in 2007. Like Myles, Sean graduated from Arlington Martin High School. So did his sister Brea. She is two years older than Myles, and she is the one who blazed the family trail to Texas A&M. As a senior at Martin, she won Class 5A state titles in the shot put and the 100-meter hurdles. She also won the NCAA indoor championship in the weight throw for the Aggies.

For Myles, the next step is to live up to the pedigree. He has all the tools, both on the field and off. At his introductory press conference, Myles told the Cleveland media that he was looking forward to sacking Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisbeger in the opener next fall – strong words when you consider how the Steelers and Big Ben have dominated the Browns for the past dozen years. But the acquisition of this Arlington product has everyone in the Browns organization feeling good. When asked what he thought of Myles’ prediction, Browns VP of football operations Sashi Brown said, “We’re not scared of it. Myles, if you go back and look at his introductory press conference, he had the right amount of levity balancing that confidence.”

Not surprisingly, when he returned for a mini-camp last month Myles was asked about his bold prognostication. “You just gotta back up your words. Don’t be scared from it or don’t shy from it,” Garrett said. “Make sure, if you’re willing to say something that you worked hard enough and prepared well enough to back those things up.”

Garrett does not shy away from anything, even criticism before he has taken his first snap in an NFL game. On the second day of mini-camp Myles watched film with Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, who had a surprising assessment of the first overall pick. He told Myles, “that I was slow off the ball,” Garrett said. Myles admits he was surprised to hear that criticism, but he respects the opinion of Smith, who played in four Super Bowls with the Bills.

If history is any indicator, Myles will take Smith’s words to heart.  Smith will be a special coach to Myles during mini-camps and training camp, and – maybe, just maybe – Myles will have a career like Bruce did. Smith was an 11-time Pro-Bowler and a part of the NFL 1990s All-Decade team that included a lot of your favorites from the ‘90s Cowboys.

The sun is shining on the behind of Myles Garrett, who will help the Browns try to forget the futility that has dogged them for so long. He will approach his new job with skill, humility, confidence, and levity – all of which he learned in your midst, right here in Arlington, Texas.

 

Sports columnist John Rhadigan is an anchor for the Fox Sports Southwest television network.