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'This is who I was raised to be': Myles Garrett gracious, determined after Man of the Year nomination

Garrett has made 2020 one of his most fulfilling years both on and off the field

Myles Garrett’s 2020 resume is full of impressive accomplishments both on and off the field.

On the field, he's currently tied for third in the NFL with 10.5 sacks and the first Browns player to post at least 10 sacks in three consecutive seasons since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He's made a game-changing play in each of the seven wins he's played in, which has firmly placed him in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.

Off the field, Garrett has led several efforts for the betterment of the Cleveland community and beyond. He's embraced his role as an active player captain for the Waterboys, which focuses on bringing clean water to communities in East Africa and has helped engage several other active players in joining the organization and engaging fans. He's also helped start conversations around Cleveland about social justice and has lent a hand in several efforts to provide aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garrett was recognized Thursday for all of those efforts when he was nominated by the Browns for the 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is given to the NFL's best players for their performance on the field and their dedication to the community.

"I can't do it without the guys here and the coaches, as well as (former NFL DE) Chris Long and the other members of the Waterboys foundation," Garrett said. "The things I get to do on my own, I have only been blessed to be able to do that because of loving parents and friends who keep me motivated."

Garrett's personal motivations have touched the lives of people across the world. He's always wanted to be a charitable role model since the Browns drafted him with the first overall pick in 2017, and some of his biggest contributions have come through Waterboys, which helped facilitate a trip for Garrett last February to Tanzania. During the trip, Garrett saw for himself what many East Africans experience in their battle to find sustainable water resources.

That trip was merely a highlight of many other generous activities Garrett has completed throughout the year, and he kept that trip in mind when he created his Tackle Thirst campaign to provide water to communities this season. Every sack he's recorded this season has led to donations from himself and others to fund clean water projects.

"I had been personally motivated, me and my mother, trying to get water to impoverished countries since I was in high school," he said. "This is who I was raised to be and this is the kind of world that I envision for others."

Players and coaches around the Browns have looked up to Garrett for leadership all season. He was already their top leader before he signed a five-year extension in the offseason that will help cement him as one of the greatest defenders in Browns history, and his play on the field has rallied the defense to make significant improvements throughout the season

Without Garrett, the Browns might not have the fourth-best turnover differential in the NFL. They might not have a defense that is tied for third in the league with 20 takeaways. They might not be 9-3, which is their best start to a season since 1994.

But those intangibles are only half of why Garrett was nominated. He's been just as impactful away from football and has touched the lives of many who could benefit from a person of his platform. He's strived to make a difference on the lives of anyone who needs it, and that's why his 2020 has been truly special.

"From the moment I have been with him, he has been a team player all of the way," coach Kevin Stefanski said. "You know what type of player he is, and he's obviously a very high-caliber player. He does a great job of opening things up for the rest of the defense.

"Off the field, he is very conscientious. He wants to make an impact in this community and really around the country and around the world. He has done an exemplary job at that."

Garrett has made all facets of 2020 count. He's already grabbed his third consecutive season with 10 or more sacks and is on pace to potentially build his best season ever with the Browns.

But that label extends beyond his stats. Garrett has further cemented his role as a pivotal, inspiring player of the franchise. That's why the Browns tabbed Garrett as their nominee for one of the NFL's most prestigious awards.

But a nomination isn't going to make him complacent in any of his efforts.

This is who Garrett truly is, and he's not going to change.

"It's not about being honored or recognized and praised for what you are doing," he said. "It's the love and the actual kindness that you have in your heart that you can't really show. You will never be able to explain to people that this is not for show and that you are not trying to put this out so you can get credit. This is not a homework assignment. This is not a test.

"It's just about doing it. It's just how you live your life."