On Sunday, Myles Garrett will play in a football game for the first time since he threw Mason Rudolph's helmet at the Steelers' backup quarterback on Nov. 14, 2019. Since the altercation, the Browns' Pro Bowl pass rusher was suspended for the remainder of the season, was fined over $45,000 and was forced to watch his teammates win two just more games in his absence.
Garrett (who was reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in February) signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension in July, a contract that would have never come to fruition if Garrett decided to walk away from football, something that the 24-year-old said he actually considered.
"I did [consider retiring]," Garrett recently told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "Whether it was because of their decision or my decision, it was whether this was going to continue."
Garrett believes that he would have been "OK" had he decided to retire after just three seasons. He believes he would have found a new way to feed his competitive nature, even joking that he could have mimicked Michael Jordan's decision try baseball during the peak of his athletic powers. Garrett, however, said that had he retired, it would have made it harder -- without the luxury of having an NFL income -- for him to give back to his favorite charities and youth teams. He also said that he did not want the final image of him on a football field being what transpired between him and Rudolph.
"I know that in my heart — and the people who have raised me [know] — that's never who I've been," Garrett said. "I've never been one to crawl up in a ball and to shy away from problems or things that happen to me. I had the opportunity to show that my life and what I've been through is bigger than the game of football. I've been raised with too many values, too many great role models and peers who have showed me the way to have just lost my way with one incident and it won't define me."
Speaking of Rudolph, Garrett said that he would like to sit down with him to discuss what the two can do to "move forward, and just being better men and football players and not letting something like that happen again." Garrett said that he would be willing to extend the proverbial olive branch in order to make that meeting happen. As for the racist slur that Garrett alleged Rudolph called him, but which Rudolph denies, Garrett said that can be something the two may ultimately have to "agree to disagree" on.
A possible meeting could take place the weekend of Oct. 18, when the Browns travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.
"I just don't want any grudges," Garrett said. "I don't have any grudge against him. I don't have any ill intent against him. It's not like I'd have anything against him if I saw him in public or if I saw him in a game and we were suited up. I'd just play him like I play anybody else. if I saw him in public, I'd just fist-bump and walk away just like if I saw anybody else on the street that I didn't know personally. I don't have a problem with that. Other than that night, before that play and after that play, I don't think we spoke two words to each other.
"And now our fates are intertwined forever, and so I don't think we should leave it off like that, is my opinion. I feel like we should clear the air so there's no problems and there's no bad blood. Between our teams and our fans, the rivalry I feel like will live off of it, but between the players, I feel like it should always be competitive but never go over the line."