Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is an early candidate for defensive player of the year and on pace to shatter single-season sack records for the franchise. In his first seven games of the 2021 season, he has registered 9.5 sacks, with his most stellar outing being a 4.5-sack effort in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears.
NFL records indicate that Reggie Camp holds the single-season franchise record with 14 sacks in 1984; although unofficial records from the early years indicate that Bill Glass had 16.5 sacks in 1960. Here’s to hoping that an injury, COVID-19, or an unforeseen lapse in judgment doesn’t get in the way of disrupting Garrett’s path for history (he still has plenty of quarterback gravestones to make true, after all).
Garrett has called two team meetings this season on the defensive side of the ball, both of which have led to impressive outings against the Bears and the Broncos. Besides being a leader in the locker room, he has always done great work off the field. One of his ventures in 2021 has included commissioning murals in downtown Cleveland.
The newest mural commissioned by Garrett went up in the Playhouse Square District on Sept. 28, 2021. A couple of weeks ago, I did a walking tour in Downtown, showcasing the hidden gem tucked just to the right of the big “PLAYHOUSE SQUARE” sign. I followed that up by walking down Euclid Avenue to highlight the other murals that were unveiled this past April (which I also covered when I was shooting videos related to the NFL Draft).
The artist for the mural in Playhouse Square was Lauren Pearce, through the Voice of Cleveland initiative. The mural is located on the side of the United Way of Greater Cleveland building on Euclid Avenue. It represents Myles Garrett on the left as a boy, and his grandmother, Juanita Garrett, who was beloved and instrumental in his life. There is a birthday cake in the mural too, as it depicts Garrett celebrating his third or fourth birthday.
“I’m just really honored to have her put up there,” Garrett told Browns.com. “I know everybody won’t understand the impact that she has on me, but the only reason why I’m able to give back to the city and play for the city is because she had that impact on me. I’m blessed to be here in front of y’all and be the person I am. ... (She taught me) to walk around and be respected for not only playing on Sundays and Mondays, but also just being a quality person and someone your family members can look up to. That means more to me than producing and getting sacks.”
This mural, and many others in the Downtown area, are part of the “Voices of CLE” project from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. The initiative calls on local artists, especially of color, to amplify their voices, providing a platform for “freedom of expression and encouraging healing while also sparking conversation and action.”
Earlier this year, Garrett revealed the “Cleveland is the Reason” mural at the Cleveland Visitors Center, inspired by Cleveland icons of sports, culture, and rock ‘n’ roll and created by local artist Glen Infante. The first set of murals honors some of Cleveland’s icons, including Jesse Owens, LeBron James, Machine Gun Kelly, Toni Morrison, Jim Brown and Tracy Chapman.
“When you think of Cleveland, we often think about these popular personalities who helped shape the culture of our city,” says Infante. “I wanted to make sure that those who found success in their respected fields were being recognized and thanked for their accomplishments.”
Could we see more murals pop up in Downtown Cleveland, supported by Garrett? Yes — he’s not stopping with just these two, as Garrett tells Browns.com:
“I have some in the works. We’re in the brainstorming process and have plans for more murals to go up later this year or early next year. ... I want to plant my roots deep here because this is going to be home for me for a long time, and hopefully forever. I’m always a part of this community and this city, and I want to live through this city.”
To learn more about the #VoicesofCLE initiative, visit their website. You can also see a collection of pictures below of the pieces that Garrett commissioned:
For some bonus footage, after I toured the murals that day, I also checked out both of the Arcades in Downtown Cleveland (which did include at least one more #VoicesofCLE artwork):