As the video board rolled footage of DE Myles Garrett and his 2023 season, it showed clips of him sacking Bears QB Justin Fields, Broncos QB Russell Wilson, and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson.
Then, Guardians manager Stephen Vogt stood stage and announced Garrett as the winner of the Professional Athlete of the Year Award, presented by JPMorgan Chase. Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry walked up onto the stage and accepted the award on behalf of Garrett.
Another video rolled on the screen with Garrett sharing his appreciation for the award.
"It's an honor to receive the Pro Athlete of the Year Award," Garrett said. "I don't take it for granted. The city of Cleveland has adopted me and accepted me. There are a whole lot of very deserving athletes all over the city of Cleveland across all sports. I couldn't do it without the help of my teammate and my coaches, not only motivating and elevating me, but continue to push and drive each other towards success, and it's really turned into something special and hopefully we continue to do that. But thank you to the city of Cleveland and let's continue to make this a special year with all sports going around."
The Professional Athlete of the Year Award is presented to a professional athlete who most distinguished himself of herself throughout athletic excellence during the past year or athletic season. Garrett was among three finalists, including Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell and Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor.
"Everybody knows how dominant of a player he is on the field and how important he is to our success defensively and really just as a team," Berry said. "But the other aspect is just his leadership. He's really one of our tone setters for our culture. And so, we couldn't be more proud of accepting this award on his behalf."
Garrett had an impactful 2023 season as a leader for the Browns defense. He recorded a team-high 14 sacks, four forced fumbles and added 42 tackles – with 33 solo tackles – 17 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback hits. Garrett is the only active player with 10 or more sacks in each of the past six seasons and became the seventh player in NFL history to record 10 or more sacks in a season in six consecutive seasons.
Garrett was also named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 7 when the Browns beat the Colts 39-38. He finished the game with nine tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, one pass defensed and one blocked field goal.
With his success throughout the 2023 season, Garrett earned his fifth All-Pro selection of his career when he was named First Team All-Pro. He was also selected for his fifth Pro Bowl.
"When your best players, or your best workers, or your best players in terms of preparation, it just makes it easier for your coaches and your support staff to set the right tone, set the right energy for the team throughout the course of the season," Berry said. "And when you have one of the best players in the NFL that embodies those characteristics, it's really huge for our organization."
The Greater Cleveland Sports Awards is an annual fundraiser to support the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, a local non-profit with its goals of improving the economy and the community through hosting major sporting and competitive events. This is the 24th year of the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards. Since 2000, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission has brought over 200 sporting and competitive events to Cleveland, providing more than $917 million in economic impact to Northeast Ohio.