Myles Garrett is a mountain of a man — we’d use a larger term if one existed — who is rather prolific when it comes to social media.
Often, his videos are of him lifting substantial weight, or leaping to heights no man his size should be able to reach. But around this time of the year, Garrett tends to take his athletic talents to a different arena: the basketball court.
In the past, Garrett has gone so far as to shatter a recreation center’s backboard with a dunk. While not quite the stature of Shaquille O’Neal, Garrett is likely the largest human you might catch on public courts, and he’s been giving his unfortunate opponents that work for much of this offseason, windmill dunking, hitting corner threes and doing just about everything in between.
If you haven’t seen him by now, though, you probably won’t. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski says those days are over.
“He’s retired,” Stefanski said Wednesday. “He’s done.”
Garrett smiled when asked later about his pickup basketball career, telling reporters he’s done for now but perhaps not forever.
“I feel like it’s more of like a (Michael) Jordan retirement,” Garrett said with a smirk Wednesday. “I went to baseball for a second, slash, I went to basketball for a second. Now I’ve got to go back to what I’m good at, what I usually do, playing football, rush the passer, stopping the run. Next season, you never know. I might go back to basketball, I might go play baseball, see if I can get on a team. There’s more on the horizon but I’ve got to get back to what my main focus is.”
Garrett is far from the first pro athlete to realize basketball might not be the best business decision for him with a healthy (key word there) professional career going in another sport. Yankees fans will recall Aaron Boone’s pickup basketball injury that ended the 2004 season for him (and his time with New York) before it began, and the Chiefs attempted to prevent such an outcome for their superstar quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, by quickly bringing an end to his offseason participation on the hardwood. Garrett is no different.
Where Garrett is different, though, in comparison to the 2020 version of himself is in his respiratory health. After fighting through lingering effects from COVID-19 during the latter half of the 2020 campaign, Garrett said he’s feeling “the best I have since last year before COVID,” adding it’s a “wonderful feeling” to not have to struggle with lung strength.
Garrett also provided some revelatory details in explaining how the symptoms he’d experienced during the season were remarkably limiting for a player who is known for rarely exiting a game and seldom taking a play off.
“Athletically, I felt like I had it. Conditioning-wise, I felt like I was like 50 percent,” Garrett recounted. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to use oxygen so frequent, so early into a game than in Tennessee (in Week 13). I don’t think I had a huge amount of snaps but I was like, hanging on.
“Once you get tired, one, you start losing the plays, so you’re trying to think about what you’re supposed to do here. If you’re thinking about what you’re supposed to do here, you can’t think about the alternatives or the options off that, the pass-rush moves or the rip and release for run blocks. Once you’re thinking about just trying to remember the play, you’re not thinking about running calls with your DT, things start to slip. And then you’re not thinking about alternatives that you can do with your hands, so you just start to rely on one move. All that stuff just starts to weigh on you. So I’m just trying to get my conditioning back (at that time).
“I think I had a quarter, maybe a quarter and a half and I was honestly like emptying the tank. I don’t think I’ve ever been like that. So, to not feel like that, it’s great. I’m glad I’ve recovered and hope nothing like that happens to me or anyone else.”
Garrett was still effective, but not quite the Defensive Player of the Year candidate he’d been prior to being infected by the novel coronavirus. Instead of seeing Garrett on the field for all three downs, viewers would occasionally wonder where Garrett was for a play or two before the broadcast cut to a shot of him breathing heavily on the sideline.
With that (and basketball, for now) in his rearview, Garrett was back in Cleveland this week for OTAs with his eyes set on new heights in 2021.
“For me, it’s like, I’ve just got to outwork the man I was the day before,” Garrett said. “I’ve always got to be better. Nothing in life stays the same, you’re either better or worse.”
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