I donated to The Waterboys this morning, in honor of Myles Garrett. Most of my non-Midwest pals probably aren’t tracking this, so I’ll add a little explanation as to why I suddenly have something to say about football.
Myles is an exemplary player and human, not just among Browns players, but across the whole NFL. He writes poetry. He listens to jazz. He invites people from the community to hang out with his puppy at the dog park (“no autographs, please”). He’s friendly in public and universally liked by the people of Cleveland. Have a look at the Emmy-winning series “Building the Browns” for more of his backstory. Most people wouldn’t know those things because he plays for Cleveland.
However, most of the nation has seen him on TV recently because in the last Browns/Steelers game, he went gonzo and hit the Steelers QB in the head with his own helmet. There’s plenty of video showing the fight and the events leading up to it. I won’t belabor it here. Suffice to say he made some bad decisions and crossed some lines.
However, a few of the events that followed don’t sit right with me. There was clearly a lot of physical and verbal instigation fromm the Steelers QB leading up to Myles’ final swing. In what was supposed to be a confidential hearing, Myles shared that he heard the QB call him a racial slur. He intentionally kept the “racial slur” business private after the game and media aftermath, in order to share it in confidence at his appeal hearing. He didn’t want that to be part of the public discourse about the event because it was likely to twist the narrative, but it’s out and it has.
In case anyone hadn’t noticed, black men in America have a long history of to be extremely careful how they respond to mistreatment, because they are often characterized as violent thugs. For no particularly good reasons, it’s a story that white Americans find easy to believe. They also have to be careful about bringing issues of racism into the conversation, even when they’re important, because people make assumptions. And again, the “he’s just playing the race card” story is immediately believable for a lot of white America.
No question Myles made a huge mistake and should probably sit out the rest of the season for it. What’s generally at issue around here, is whether everyone involved is receiving a fair and appropriate punishment for their involvement. Myles owned his mistake immediately and humbly. It’s clear the Steelers’ QB is getting off too easy, and honestly he’s acting like a bratty kid who’s used to getting away with things. The NFL says there’s no field audio of the events leading up to the fight, which is a little surprising. It’s not clear the NFL is interested in getting to the truth or making sure things are fair for all involved.
So, the Browns and the people of Cleveland are doing things to support Myles Garrett. Donating to The Waterboys is what I did.