Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t thrilled when they heard the No. 1 pick in the draft had already put a target on them.
Maybe it’s because it came from Myles Garrett, who was just picked by the Cleveland Browns, a team that has only beaten them 6 times over the last 18 seasons that has seen them play a total of 37 games. That’s 1 win every 2-3 years.
After being drafted by the Browns with the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Garrett was asked which quarterback he was looking forward to getting after first, and his answer was ‘Big Ben.’
“I think that was kind of blown up, but [I] stand by [it],” Garrett said. “We’re looking to get after him. Why should I be afraid of saying those kinds of things? That’s what any team would say or any player would say. You’re trying to make a name for yourself. You’re trying to go out there and win games just like they are. They’re not going to shy away from the challenge, and neither are we.”
Coming off the worst season in franchise history at 1-15, pardon Roethlisberger and the Steelers for not taking Garrett seriously, but the defensive end from Texas A&M isn’t backing down.
“I’m going to be myself, and I’m not going to hide,” Garrett said. “I’m going to be respectful. The team comes first. I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize them or myself, [but I’ll] just make sure I speak lightly and carry a big stick.”
Browns head coach Hue Jackson has no problems with anything that Garrett has said but hopes he will back it up on the field this fall.
“He’s not scared of him, and if he’s not scared of him, I’m not scared of him.” Jackson said following Friday’s first rookie minicamp practice. “I support our guys wholeheartedly that way. I mean, this is a game of competition. I want us to be able to channel some of those, let’s earn the right to say those things but he said them at a time when questions were asked and sometimes the emotional part comes out and I think that’s what you saw.
“I think he wants to be really good. I think he wants to have that kind of thought process throughout the league but I think he gets [that] he has to earn that.”
Garrett was selected in the hopes he’ll help transform one of the worst defenses in the league in 2016 under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in 2017.
He believes that he will do just that.
“I’m going to be a playmaker,” Garrett said. “No matter where they put me at or what kind of plays they have, I know they’re going to put me in the best position to make plays. I’m not really bothered. They’re going to blitz me. They’re going to let me go and wreck havoc, and I’m excited for it.”
He’s already set the bar of expectations high for himself – win defensive rookie of the year, defensive player of the year and earn multiple pro bowl bids – he and isn’t afraid to do it.
“I’m not worried about what other people expect from me or what they think I’m going to do,” Garrett said. “My expectations are different and higher than most others for me. I hold myself to that every, single time I step on the field, whether I’m going out there against who’s out there for rookie camp or if I’m going against the very best or if I’m just trying to learn the playbook or be a great man in general.”
Garrett is focused on putting his work where his mouth is.
He turned down a chance to attend a Cavs playoff game so he could work out at his hotel, something he does every night for approximately 2 hours. He’s also been chatting with 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, which has already brought out some playful banter between the new teammates.
“That he’s going to whoop my behind,” Garrett said of Thomas’ message to him. “I’m sure I’ll take some licks but [he’s told me] how to keep my body