After Adam Schefter announced that Cleveland Browns superstar Myles Garrett had been named the team’s 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Twitter went crazy with a bunch of (most likely Steelers) fans criticizing the honor.
The award recognizes the NFL’s best players for their performance on the field and their dedication to the community. Garrett’s demons continue to follow him.
You seem to misunderstand it was not only the worst moment but if Mason Rudolph was smart he would’ve pressed charges and had him arrested but that’s neither here nor there. This man does not deserve this nomination whatsoever
— Jeremy Callaghan 11-1 (@Jeremy247) December 10, 2020
On the field, Garrett is a game-changing pass rusher, tying for third in the NFL with 10.5 sacks and second in the league with four forced fumbles.
In the Cleveland community, he’s just as big of a star and his services are well-noted. Garrett works with Waterboys, a charity that aims to bring clean water to East Africa. He visited Tanzania for two weeks in 2020 to help install wells.
He’s also very active in social justice efforts, reaching out and making donations to the families of victims of police brutality.
Myles Garrett stresses ‘standing in solidarity’ as players hold post-practice meeting to discuss social justice issues
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 28, 2020
In addition, he’s joined with Cleveland Hope Exchange to donate food to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Unfortunately, Steelers fans and some other tight-assed fans can’t get the image of Myles Garrett attempting to crush the head of quarterback Mason Rudolph like a grape with his helmet back in 2019 (after Mason reportedly called Garrett a racial slur) out of their minds. They refuse to separate his off the field heroics from the entertainment value he provides in the heat of the moment when the cameras are on.
He may have done incredible things off the field and in the community. But there are likely many others on the 53-man roster who have done a ton for their community without such a negative incident. It’s still much too soon. Total PR move by the Browns, IMO.
— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) December 10, 2020
The Browns are saying that Garrett is our best person. He may be a great person but he just attacked a fellow player with his own helmet. Something so contrary to the human that Walter Payton was. The idea that a year later he will be considered for an award honoring Payton is 🤬
— kordella (@MightyKordella) December 10, 2020
Cleveland and Pittsburgh have a rich history as division-rivals that historically hate each other, so the negative reactions to Schefter’s announcement don’t come as a surprise. Garrett did have some people run to his defense, but not before a barrage of angry Twitter mongers tried to hijack the narrative and kill the joy of the moment.
A gracious Garrett responded in a team press release:
“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.”
The (32) 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Winners:
Arizona: Corey Peters
Atlanta: Steven Means
Baltimore: Bradley Bozeman
Buffalo: Harrison Phillips
Carolina: Shaq Thompson
Chicago: Jimmy Graham
Cincinnati: Geno Atkins
Cleveland: Myles Garrett
Dallas: Jaylon Smith
Denver: Justin Simmons
Detroit: Trey Flowers
Green Bay: Corey Linsley
Houston: Michael Thomas
Indianapolis: Jacoby Brissett
Jacksonville: Josh Lambo
Kansas City: Travis Kelce
Las Vegas: Alec Ingold
Los Angeles Chargers: Isaac Rochell
Los Angeles Rams: Andrew Whitworth
Miami: Byron Jones
Minnesota: Eric Kendricks
New England: Devin McCourty
New Orleans: Demario Davis
New York Giants: Dalvin Tomlinson
New York Jets: Pierre Desir
Philadelphia: Rodney McLeod
Pittsburgh: Vance McDonald
San Francisco: Arik Armstead
Seattle: Russell Wilson
Tampa Bay: Mike Evans
Tennessee: Kevin Byard
Washington: Jonathan Allen