In conversations this week with longtime Cleveland Browns fans, the subject was the same – Myles Garrett.
Despite the scoreboard at FirstEnergy Stadium on Nov. 14 showing the Browns beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-7, it didn’t feel like a win.
If you made a list of Browns’ starters and said one of them would do what was done at the end of the Steelers’ game, few would have pointed to Garrett. Just two weeks ago, some moron stopped Garrett near Public Square in downtown Cleveland and asked if he could take a picture of him. After agreeing to the picture, the guy punched Garrett, fully knowing who he was. Instead of leaving the car and punching the guy back, he mildly wrote his license plate and called police. Case closed. The only thing dumber than that, from a sports angle, is when four guys attacked former Cleveland Cavaliers’ enforcer Lonnie Shelton outside a restaurant on Carnegie Avenue. It did not end well for the perps.
One would have thought some callers to the sports talk shows would have tried to give Garrett some benefit of the doubt, but it would be difficult to make a case for him. In the 1960s, there was a defensive back for the New York Giants named Erich Barnes. who had the reputation of being the dirtiest player in the NFL. Cleveland acquired him in a trade, and the local media described him as being aggressive. My lasting memory of Barnes was in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals when the aggressive defensive back stomped on the head of a Cardinals’ receiver.
Somebody asked me how long it would take Garrett’s senseless act to be forgotten. That’s easy – never.
There was another “helmet game” most people remember. That was when Dwayne Rudd tossed his helmet to celebrate a Browns’ win over Kansas City in 2002, only to find out you can’t do that until the clock runs out. The Browns got a 15-yard penalty, and the Chiefs made the game-winning field goal. As disheartening as that was, it felt like a win, because the toss had nothing to do with the outcome of the play, and the referee could have easily overlooked the call.
Terry Bradshaw was part of the Fox broadcast team, and despite having four Super Bowl rings and a Hall of Fame jacket, what do Browns’ fans remember about him? It was in a game in 1976 at Cleveland Stadium when Joe ”Turkey” Jones lifted him and threw him to the ground. Forty-three years and that’s what Browns’ fans remember. Garrett will still be talked about in 50 years.
I wrote this before or used it on radio or television. I just assumed hall of famers knew each other. Several years ago, I was at a gathering in Canton during induction weekend. I was in a hotel lobby talking to the late Dante Lavelli, Browns’ hall of famer. When my conversation was over, I walked by Bradshaw, who was watching us. As if I didn’t know him, he introduced himself to me and asked if I would mind introducing him to “Gluefingers.” Bradshaw, unlike a lot of great players, understood the game and its history. It was a pretty cool moment for me.