Defensive end Myles Garrett wants the NFL to do more in the fight against racial injustice.
That includes an apology to former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who’s been out of the league since 2016 after kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social inequality.
“I feel like they should have a bigger voice,” Garrett said of the NFL on Thursday during a Zoom call with area reporters. “They have so much access to resources. They should be able to speak up.
“I believe Kap deserves an apology. I know it is one thing to stand behind us and support our efforts, but they should be standing beside us in what we are doing, seeing as there are a lot of players big and small in their stardom trying to do things for their hometowns, for where they play and just for areas that they know have been affected. I feel like they should be right there beside us trying to lead the charge.”
Garrett, 24, has taken an active role, including paying for the funeral of David McAtee, a Louisville barbecue stand owner who was killed during the protests of racial injustice.
“The work is not done. There are still things I am trying to do here in Cleveland and even back home in the DFW area (Dallas Forth-Worth) to improve the situations of the people I have grown up with and people who I know have been affected, and even those who I have not met and can’t reach yet,” Garrett said. “It is just making it better for the young women and children, who are my age and under, who I want to see get out of situations that can turn into violence or keep this cycle perpetuated.”
Garrett also reached out about paying for the funeral of retired St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn but couldn’t find a way to pay for it through official channels.
“I have friends and family that have been in the force. I have friends and family that have been in the military. I do not have anything against people who serve or know what they are doing,” Garrett said. “I just believe there needs to be a better regulation on those who are put in that position of authority and who are told to enforce the law but also protect us as citizens. David Dorn was a great representation of that for many years, and I wanted to pay that back to his family.”
Garrett plans to continue his relationship with the families of the deceased.
“Absolutely. I know that this is something that will be part of their family forever,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure they are good and that they are taken care of, and that it is not just a one-off thing. I want to see them prosper and their families around them do the same.”
FINDING A WAY
Garrett remains optimistic the NFL will have a season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it can be done,” he said. “I think it will just have to be treated delicately and have to take each issue very seriously with each team. It is just about trying to get everybody on a fair and level playing field so that when we get together, nobody is at a disadvantage.”
The NFL and NFL Players Association continue to negotiate terms for a return to work. Browns veterans are scheduled to report to training camp July 28.
“For us, it is being as efficient and safe as possible,” Garrett said. “We want to make sure that everybody is getting in but they also have a safe place to work, a safe place to study, shower and do whatever you need so that you do not pass it off to your family, your loved ones, people you go visit or whoever it is.
“I would say it is more for the people around us who are not as fortunate as us. Most of us, we are healthy young men and will be able to shrug it off. As we have seen, it is mostly asymptomatic for us, but we do not want to pass it to someone it can affect and really put a hurt on them.”
NOT THE ANSWER
The NFL is considering a mouth shield players can wear with their face masks to reduce the spread of the virus. Garrett doesn’t think the shields are the solution.
“That is not going to do much,” he said. “You have guys swapping hands, spitting, bleeding, coughing and sweating all over each other. We are on piles.
“There are so many times where there is physical contact where you are exchanging all kinds of contagions or the ability to spread the virus. There are so many actions and possibilities for that to happen. That face mask, there are good intentions behind it, but it is not going to be the trick, and neither is shutting down jersey swapping. That is not going to be the answer, either.”
GETTING IT DONE
Garrett is a workout warrior — he has the chiseled body as proof — and said he kept up his training despite the pandemic.
“I was able to get a weight room installed into my house, a room to run, a room to do drills and work on bags, movement and hands,” he said. “I have been doing pretty much everything I would be doing if I were in the building, except for sitting in a classroom and meeting with guys personally.
“I am still working, still grinding and still trying to condition myself for whenever camp starts.”