Myles Garrett is one of numerous NFL players who is sharing his personal expectations for the season just days before it begins. But Garrett, a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns, knows his audience very, very well. When he spoke about the expectations he has for himself this year, he invoked the name of the King.
"I've got my Kyrie [Irving] and my [Kevin] Love?" Garrett asked rhetorically during an interview with Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. "Well, hell, I have to prove that I'm LeBron [James] first before anything. I have to prove that I'm the playmaker at all levels. Hell, he's top three in any debate that you have."
Garrett's recent struggles
Saying that he wants to be the LeBron James of the Browns, or even of all NFL defenders, lets Browns fans know how serious he is about competing this year. It's not the first time Garrett has publicly discussed his high expectations for himself. Following the 2018 season — his best in the NFL to date — Garrett said he was aiming to "crush" the Browns' single-season sack record of 14, set by Reggie Camp.
And ... he did not do that. Not in 2019 or 2020, both seasons in which Garrett missed significant time or was struggling with illness. In 2019, he missed the final six games of the season when he was suspended for clomping Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet, which incited an on-field brawl.
Garrett missed just two games in 2020 when he contracted COVID-19, but admitted to the Akron Beacon Journal in June that due to his asthma, the virus continued to impact him even after he'd gotten over the infection. Over the final seven games of the season, he said he struggled with fatigue and conditioning, and had to use oxygen early in games.
Garrett knows what he has to do
Garrett said he has completely healed from his bout with COVID and feels better than ever. He is also fully vaccinated, so his chances of being felled by another serious COVID infection are very low. That's key, because the long recovery time is what derailed the success of his 2020 season.
The goal is to be on the field for every single game. Garrett is confident he has the talent to be the LeBron of the Browns, he just has to play the entire season so he can prove it.
“[My friends say], 'It's not even talent. You've just got play the whole season. You've just got to be there and be available.' It's like, 'Yeah, I hear ya,'” Garrett told the Akron Beacon Journal.
“I feel like I have the talent to put out a hell of a year, one that will be remembered for a long time, especially here with the things we're doing or hope to do this year. If I can have the year they expect me to have and that I hope to have, then it will be remembered for a long time. It will be just what I'm hoping that I could've done the last two years and continue to do for the rest of my career.”