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Myles Garrett doesn't shy away from lofty goals as Browns introduce him

Texas A&M defensive lineman Myles Garrett sacks Auburn's Sean White last season. [Associated Press]
Texas A&M defensive lineman Myles Garrett sacks Auburn's Sean White last season. [Associated Press]
Published Apr. 29, 2017

BEREA, Ohio — Myles Garrett loves dinosaurs, poetry, old-school music and art, but the No. 1 overall pick whom ESPN the Magazine labeled "the most interesting man in the draft" is determined to make sacking quarterbacks his main hobby as a cornerstone of the Browns.

Garrett flashed his fascinating personality and didn't shy away from his lofty goals Friday during his introductory news conference at team headquarters.

"I'm not ashamed of the things I like and the things I like to do in my off time, and I'm glad to let you all know that I have other hobbies, other interests that keep me grounded, that keep stress from bothering me or taking away from my game," said Garrett, a standout defensive end from Texas A&M. "When I get away from the game, I'm happy to enjoy myself.

"But when I'm back here and I'm on the field, those things go away, and it's time to win."

Garrett is well aware the Browns were 1-15 last season and haven't won consistently for a long time. They'll count on him to help reverse their fortunes after making him the top pick Thursday night.

"This guy is as good as I've seen in a while not just as a football player but also as a person and what he wants to become," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "He has a burning desire to be one of the best in football. We've all known his talent and seen his talent. We have the right guy. He's just got to come in and do it consistently over time, and the rest will take care of itself."

Garrett is aiming to make an immediate impact and already has Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in his crosshairs. The Browns will host the Steelers on Sept. 10 in the regular-season opener.

"He's my first target, and I've been watching him for a very long time just growing up," Garrett said. "So I finally get to face him and scheme against him and his left tackle and the whole offensive line and know what I'm up against."

Garrett has made it known he wants to be the greatest NFL player of all time and own all the records and awards that would go with the distinction.

"I have some pretty lofty goals for myself, so I don't really listen to anybody else's expectations," Garrett said. "I keep myself grounded with my family and my friends, and they always help me keep my head straight and keep focused. I'm not worried about what everybody else is thinking or the negative comments anybody else wants to make."

The Browns are confident Garrett, 21, won't be crushed by the pressure associated with the being the top pick.

"He's an old soul," head of football operations Sashi Brown said. "He does not seem like a guy that's going to be either phased by the limelight or success. Frankly, he is just a competitive kid that loves football, wants to be the best, wants to be the best at it, maybe the best ever.

"He really just eats, drinks and sleeps football, does do the poetry and some other things, as well, but, he's a very, very intelligent young man. Our psych testing and background testing on him, he was off the charts. Physically, you guys have seen him. I don't think there has been a better prospect that has come out in terms of an athlete at that size in some time."

Garrett, 6-foot-41/2 and 272 pounds, said "it's been awhile" since he hasn't felt like the best player on the field.

"You always got to have that confidence in your mind," Garrett said. "You don't want to be arrogant about it, but if you prepare yourself during the offseason and every week before the game with film, studying your opponent and just practicing hard, then you should feel prepared. You should feel ready for the guy who's in front of you."

Garrett didn't always produce like the best player last season, when he had 81/2 sacks as a junior after racking up 121/2 in 2015 and 111/2 in 2014.

But he also missed two games with a high-ankle sprain and played with the injury for the second half of last season. He estimated he was about 75 percent healthy and said he pushed through the pain because he didn't want to let down his teammates.

"I couldn't get that explosiveness, that step past the offensive tackle like I wanted or that step to the left," he said. "But I gave what I could."

The ankle injury didn't require surgery, but it bothered Garrett enough that he considered skipping workouts in early March at the NFL Scouting Combine. Former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher advised Garrett in the pre-draft process and urged him to compete at the combine. Garrett obliged and stole the show with time of 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"He's too big to run that fast," said strong safety Jabrill Peppers, the 25th pick.

Garrett also played with a broken hand three years ago when he set the Southeastern Conference record for sacks by a freshman. He wore a cast in games and later had surgery.

"I didn't have surgery until late that spring," he said. "It was kind of wearing on me sophomore year. But it's just adversity."

Anyone who has played for the Browns is familiar with adversity because the franchise hasn't had a winning season since 2007.

"We're going to start turning it around," Garrett said.

Garrett revealed that his only private workout during the pre-draft process was with new Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

The team fell in love with Garrett and had legendary running back Jim Brown speak to him by phone when it picked him.

"Jim Brown is arguably the greatest football player of all time," Garrett said. "Hearing him speak on the phone was absolutely amazing."

If Garrett has it his way, people will ultimately refer to him as the greatest of all time.

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