Myles Garrett looked down at the plastic water bottle in his hands, closed his eyes and shook his head.
The water, scooped from a small reservoir in the Lobosoit Region of Tanzania, was a brackish shade of brown. Garrett was in disbelief.
Surely, this wasn't what people living in the desolate, dry region of Africa were drinking every day?
Wrong. The small water hole was the main source of nourishment for Lobosoit citizens. Garrett, who visited the town in February, was there to see the lack of clean water himself as part of a trip with NFL Waterboys, which unites professional athletes and fans looking to provide clean, accessible drinking water to communities in need.
"It literally looked like someone scooped a pile of dirt, put it in a bottle and tossed water in there," he said. "That's what they're drinking. They don't have a choice."
Garrett, who is the captain of NFL Waterboys, kept that visual in mind when he created his goals for this season, and he's incorporating his defensive dominance on the field to help deliver clean water to people who lack it.
Garrett plans to fund efforts to create safe water wells with each sack he makes this season as part of his 'Tackle Thirst' campaign. He's hoping to raise $95,000, representing No. 95, during the regular season to fund sustainable clean water projects at home and abroad and provide water to 9,500 people. Interested donors can select one of five program levels to donate a certain amount of proceeds for each sack.
Bench Player: $95 per sack
Role Player: $250 per sack
• Inclusion in one tweet from Myles that includes all sponsor
Starter: $400 per sack
• Bench player benefits plus;
• Logo inclusion on Myles' player page on Waterboys.org through
January 15, 2021
Pro-Bowler: $800 per sack
• Starter benefits plus;
• Logo inclusion on Waterboys.org main sponsors page for 12
• Logo inclusion on dedicated Pro-Bowler sponsor tweet from
Hall of Famer: $1,400 per sack
• Pro-Bowler benefits plus
• One signed Myles Garrett item
• Logo inclusion on one well project dedication plaque
Garrett, who is also pledging $5,000 per sack to NFL Waterboys, plans to use the donations to fund 16 wells over the course of the season and expand the organization's projects into a new country in Africa.
Ever since he was drafted by the Browns with the first overall pick in 2017, Garrett has always wanted to incorporate his on-field performance toward a humanitarian effort — an idea he received from his mom, Audrey. Now Garrett hopes people will join him in creating clean water to people across the world.
"I thought that was a great idea," Garrett said, "to match my sack count with something I was passionate about and put my heart into."
Garrett became captain of NFL Waterboys in 2019 and worked with several other players in using their platforms to engage their fans in the clean water crisis. Other players in the organization include Zack Martin (Cowboys), Taylor Lewan (Titans), Brett Hundley (Cardinals), Beau Allen (Patriots), Ben Garland (49ers) and Johnny Hekker (Rams).
Over 785 million people lack basic drinking-water service, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas. NFL Waterboys, which is part of the Chris Long Foundation, is hoping to provide sustainable access to clean drinking water for 1 million people worldwide.
The program has already served 380,000 people, and Garrett's mission will help push the number even closer to their goal.
"It's amazing to work with Myles," said Nicole Woodie, Executive Director at the Chris Long Foundation. "Myles' heart and passion for water is so authentic and genuine. For us to have a player like Myles who cares through every ounce of his body to get water to people who desperately need it and use his platform he has to eradicate water scarcity, it's just really phenomenal for us."
Garrett immersed himself into the daily lives of the people NFL Waterboys helps most when he made the trip to Tanzania, and he wanted to bring fans into his efforts in helping provide clean water around the world. That's why he wanted to incorporate his sacks into the donations he and his supporters make, and the dominance Garrett has on the field this season will go far beyond simply helping the Browns win football games.
When Garrett formulated his mission, however, he couldn't shake the image of that dirty shade of water in the water bottle. He didn't think it was fair that many people around the world drink and use water similar to that, and he hopes his next NFL season will help give thousands of people the clean water they deserve.
"I couldn't not think about it," Garrett said. "Especially coming home from that trip, I came back to a nice home with air conditioning. I didn't have to worry about my neighbors not showing up tomorrow because they were stricken by disease. I didn't have to worry about walking miles to get water for my family. These are blessings we take for granted. I hope to be part of a solution for them and a turning of the tide, and I hope people will hop on board with us. That's what they deserve."