One thing you should know about my son, Myles, is that he wouldn’t harm an insect.
Really, he wouldn’t.
I remember a wasp once got into our house and was upstairs in his bathroom. If you haven’t seen a North Texas wasp before, they’re big and mean as all hell. I had noticed the wasp buzzing around and said, “Myles, go kill it.”
Now another thing you should know about Myles is that he’s a really obedient kid. Growing up, I never had to really discipline him. He never had a rebellious stage. He was just always decent and tried to do what was right.
But this was one thing he simply wouldn’t do.
It wasn’t that he was scared of the wasp. Actually it was the complete opposite. He empathized with it.
Myles looked at me and said, “Dad, it’s fine. He’ll find his way out of the house.”
Then I doubled down and handed him a bottle of Raid. “Boy, if that wasp gets downstairs and stings your mom,” I said, “you and I ain’t gonna hear the end of it.”
Then Myles shook his head and said, “Dad, everything on this earth has a purpose and deserves the right to live.”
That kind of made me pause. I’d never really thought about it that way.
Now you might be thinking, Wow, Myles must have been a really gentle soul as a kid.
Well, yeah that’s true … but this just happened last year!
The NFL draft is a long process – maybe too long. I understand that there are a lot of people whose jobs are solely to critique these kids and figure out what’s “wrong” with them. I’ve always told Myles that not everybody is going to love him. There will be people who are negative toward him just because they can be. He’s always understood that and taken it in stride.
But it’s important to me that people know that Myles Garrett is much more than just a football player. He’s something much more important than that.
He’s a great person.
Myles has always been quick out of the gate.
On the day he was born, while my wife was in labor, I had left the delivery room for a couple of minutes to go with my mother to get her something to eat. Two and a half years earlier, I had been right there to catch Myles’s older sister, Brea, as soon as she was born, and my hope was to do the same with him. But he had other plans.
By the time I made it back, there was this big, chubby baby waiting for me. I remember just thinking, Wow, he’s a big one. That was a good day.
I always knew he’d be an athlete. My wife ran track in college, and I had played sports my entire life. It only made sense that Myles would love sports too. And I figured he’d have a competitive streak — that’s something that also runs in the family.
On one of my very first dates with my wife, I took her to a bowling alley and we were playing air hockey. Now this wasn’t a playful game. Not at all. We were going at it. And at one point, I scored three or four times in a row and she straight up picked up the paddle and threw it across the table at me. Honestly, I thought that was great. A little wild — but great.
Myles has always had that same kind of competitive spirit in him. When he was a little kid and he’d lose at a board game or he was frustrated with his siblings, he would put his fists up to his head and start growling. God, that made our whole family just laugh and laugh.
He was always a really big kid, but I didn’t realize how much of a special athlete he was until around the time he was in seventh grade. I was his AAU basketball coach and — God help him — the kid could not handle the ball worth a lick. We worked at it and worked at it, doing drills and exercises, but it just wouldn’t click. While he wasn’t a natural basketball player at that age — man, could he dunk. I’m not talking about barely getting the ball over the rim. I mean this middle school kid was elevating and slamming the ball down. That was the first time I really started to think, Hmmmm we might have something here.
I never pushed Myles toward sports. I never needed to. He always seemed really happy when he was out on a field running around, and so I was happy too. He eventually got the hang of basketball when he was in high school, but around that time it also started becoming clear that his future was in football. In all the ways basketball was something he needed to work at, football came naturally to him. He kept getting better and better every year he played and by the time he graduated, he was considered one of the top recruits in the country.
None of that happened by accident though.
Anyone who questions Myles’s desire to push himself really doesn’t understand him as a person. I think people watch him play and see how he never dances around or makes a big display of things, and they assume he doesn’t care. But that’s where they’re all wrong. One thing I’ve never had to do in my life is encourage Myles to try harder. He holds himself to a higher standard than I — and certainly than any analyst or coach — ever could. But he’s a very internal person. His motivation comes from within, rather than from those around him.
I think it’s worked out well for him so far.
There are a lot of reasons I feel really confident that he’s ready for the NFL.
For starters, he’s never let any success he’s experienced change him. He still hangs out with the same small circle of friends he’s had since elementary school. When he has a problem, he still comes to his parents for advice. And above all else, he’s a listener. He’s someone who will give anyone he meets the benefit of the doubt until they give him a reason not to. He doesn’t shy away from notoriety or attention; he just doesn’t feed off of them. I think that’s important now more than ever.
This is something he’ll never say, but if there’s one thing I hope for him as a pro, it’s that NFL referees will throw a flag when he gets held. In the SEC, I watched guys jump on Myles’s back, grab his face mask and just do all sorts of things outside of the rules in order to stop him. As a football fan, it was frustrating. As a parent, it drove me absolutely crazy. But Myles has never made excuses.
And that’s another reason why I think that as long as Myles is healthy, he will handle his business at the next level. He’s going to make it work. He’s a lunch pail player.
I’m not going to sit here and predict what kind of professional career he’s going to have. I’m just going to encourage fans of whatever team drafts him to just do the same thing I’ve been doing since he was little: Watch.
Seriously, just sit back, watch him develop and see what kind of player he becomes. You can say whatever you want about him, but like I said before, I can guarantee that nobody holds Myles to a higher standard than he holds himself to. And that’s why I feel like he’ll find a way to thrive wherever he ends up.
Watching Myles play football is a lot of fun, but what truly makes me proud is that he doesn’t let the sport define him. It isn’t the only thing he cares about. He loves to read and draw and just generally finds interests in the world around him. That might be a reason some people criticize him, but it’s also one of things I love most about him.
In December I went along with Myles for a visit to the Children’s Hospital at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It was his second visit to the hospital as a Lombardi Award finalist, but it was the first time I had ever been there with him. That day, I just stood there an marveled at how well he interacted with the young patients and the staff. He posed for pictures with everyone and took extra time to make sure each of them felt special.
That’s my boy.
I had people coming up to me, shaking my hand and saying, “I just want to commend you and your wife for doing such a good job raising your kid.”
I’ve seen Myles throw 300-pound men around like rag dolls. I’ve heard him make 100,000 people cheer at the top of their lungs. And I’m going to watch him get picked in the first round of the NFL draft.
But that right there — the way he treated those kids at the hospital — means more to me than anything else.
What makes Myles special isn’t that he plays football. Not even close. It’s that he could never play another down and he would still be a fine man — caring, empathetic, loyal and hard-working. And it’s because of those qualities that I know he’d still be successful at whatever he chose to pursue.
And I’d still be just as proud of him.