Cleveland Browns star pass-rusher Myles Garrett was named the team’s 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year on Thursday.
The former No. 1 overall pick is in the midst of a resurgent season in Cleveland, and is also proving his value off the field in light of receiving this prestigious award.
Myles Garrett wins Cleveland Browns’ Walter Payton Man of the Year
ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news of Myles Garrett winning the award, and included the list of nominees from the other 31 teams:
In an official release from the Browns’ official website, Garrett commented on the situation:
“It is an honor to be named the Walter Payton Man of the Year for my team. It is of incredible significance just to be honored and have that kind of recognition because Sweetness was a hell of a man and a hell of a football player. He has been recognized and gone down in history for his off of the field passions and what he did for people in his community and all across the world. I would like to keep that going. He is one of my favorite running backs, as well as players. To be in the same sentence as him and the same breath is an honor in itself.”ClevelandBrowns.com
As the NFL’s official website notes, the Man of the Year award is dedicated to a player who makes a positive impact on his community and excels on the gridiron, in the spirit of the late, great Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. One player from each team is nominated annually. A big perk of this distinguishing honor is Garrett gets to donate $250,000 to whichever charity he chooses if he’s ultimately named the winner.
Garrett has certainly come a long way since last season, when he was suspended for the final six games after swinging a helmet at the head of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. But even after that unfortunate on-field incident, the 24-year-old worked a “Feed the Need” event and participated in a charity basketball tournament late last year in Cleveland.
One of the major initiatives Garrett is likely being honored for in this instance is the NFL Waterboys Program, which he’s the captain of. That program has the goal of providing clean water to one million people, with a focus on communities in East Africa. It’s a testament to the work Garrett evidently did on himself, and how he translated that to helping others in need, that he’s achieved such an award from the Browns.
Myles Garrett stats, impact on Cleveland Browns
The Man of the Year award shows how Myles Garrett has been a positive influence around his community. However, no one can downplay Garrett’s massive impact on the Cleveland Browns’ incredible turnaround in 2020. With a 9-3 record, the Browns are all but guaranteed a playoff spot for the first time since 2002. Garrett has already logged 33 total tackles and 10.5 sacks in 10 games, despite missing two contests due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
If not for Garrett’s presence as an All-Pro caliber player on the defensive line, there’s little chance Cleveland would have a good enough defense to be in the postseason hunt. His individual performance will go a long way in swinging the momentum and outcome of games as the playoffs draw nearer.
Provided Garrett keeps performing at an elite level and Baker Mayfield keeps progressing in new coach Kevin Stefanski’s quarterback-friendly offensive system, there’s reason to believe the Browns could win at least one postseason game.