With the Browns on the cusp of the start of the 2019 regular season, one of the team's rising stars thought it a good time to send the team's fans a message.
Myles Garrett didn't deliver a "pack the stadium" plea, nor did he attempt to sell any more Victory Fridges. Garrett instead decided to pen a letter to explain his own journey and the path his teammates have traveled to get to this point: the eve of the most anticipated season in decades in Cleveland.
Garrett's message to Cleveland, titled "We're Here" and published Thursday by The Players' Tribune, delves into the struggles of his rookie year, in which the Browns finished 0-16, but also the promise of a young locker room that saw opportunity in each defeat. They were just missed opportunities that wouldn't be lost in the future.
"A lot of locker rooms, they go on a losing streak like that, and you'll see it tear them apart," Garrett wrote. "You'll see a lot of giving up. You'll see a lot of hopelessness. But our room, man, it just wasn't like that at all. You'd see guys talking about a 50-50 ball they could have gotten, but they didn't, and how can they fix that. You'd see guys talking about how many of our losses were by one score or less, and how we're right there in these games. And to me that says a lot."
Garrett was right, as the Browns, assisted by a quick roster remodel by general manager John Dorsey, saw a quick turnaround in his second season, finishing 7-8-1. He covered that experience, too, but offered a revealing anecdote that helps illustrate why Baker Mayfield is the franchise quarterback of the future for this organization.
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Titans Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
Garrett recalled the Browns' game in Houston against the Texans, a contest that started about as poorly as possible for Cleveland. Mayfield threw three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. Things were as uncertain as they'd been at any time in 2018, with Mayfield's biggest question mark following him into the locker room.
That, Garrett wrote, is when the defensive end realized Mayfield was the guy.
"But then at halftime of that game….. I remember, I watched Baker closely," Garrett recalled. "Wanted to see what he was about, you know — in a real moment of adversity. And here's what I saw: He didn't get mad. He didn't get frustrated. He wasn't yelling at himself, or trying to blame other guys, or making some big kind of scene. At the same time, though, he also wasn't faking it. He wasn't on some fake positive vibe. Nah.
He just….. didn't say a word.
"That's right. Baker didn't say one word, that whole halftime. He just kept to himself, minded his own business, and got ready to go back out there. And it's hard to explain how that works — you really have to know football, and know this team. But just by Baker not saying a word? It was almost like he was refusing to acknowledge that that half had even happened. Like he had the power to just….. reject it or something. It was wild. And whatever it was — coming out for the second half, he had this team FIRED. UP."
Garrett closed his letter by explaining his purpose of the piece — "but before any of that gets started, you know, I really just wanted to write this down, and say a quick thank you to Cleveland, and Browns fans everywhere" — and expressing gratitude for those who have stuck by the brown and orange through many difficult seasons. His final message was the same as that of his head coach, Freddie Kitchens:
"And whatever happens from now….. we're going to take it one game at a time, together.
Because we're the Cleveland Browns — and we're not supposed to be here.
But guess what?