CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is getting ready to return to the field for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans after being sidelined with COVID-19. Although he said he’s feeling good and is ready to play, the uber-athlete also described how hard the virus impacted him while he was out.
Garrett said he was a non-asymptomatic case, despite his belief that he would be.
“I lost my smell for almost two weeks, had body aches, headaches, my eyes were hurting, coughing, sneezing and fever. I was in pain. It was not great,” Garrett said.
On Nov. 18, Garrett stayed home from practice after feeling ill. He said at that point, he just had some coughing and sneezing, congestion, and he couldn’t clear his throat.
"I didn’t think much of it, but I did not want to expose anybody to it if those were symptoms leading up to it, so I did not want to bring anybody around me or go into the facility and have contact with anybody,” Garrett said. “I was not expecting to have it, but it just kind of ended up that way. There was not anything significant, unique or peculiar. It was just kind of regular symptoms for any kind of cold. I just did not want to risk anybody else having to sit out.”
The Browns placed Garrett on the reserve/COVID-19 list two days later after receiving a positive test result from a player.
While Garrett was out with the virus, he said that he was unable to work out much as doctors were unsure if there would be any effects on his heart and lungs as a result of the virus.
“I tried to get just a little bit of weightlifting in, but they told me to stay away from lifting and cardio just because they did not know what kind of effects there would be on my heart and my lungs from having corona,” Garrett said. “I tried to do my best to get a little bit here and there and try to stretch so I was not so stiff when I came back. Really, I was forced to just sit on the couch and watch my team carry on, and they did well.”
The star defensive end said that his biggest concern about having the virus were those long term effects it could have on his heart, citing the case of Buffalo Bills tight end Tommy Sweeny, who was diagnosed with myocarditis, or swelling of the heart, and sidelined for the remainder of the season after he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
“The last couple days I saw the article about the Buffalo Bills tight end with the myocarditis, and that was my main worry. If my lungs are a little bit heavy, if I am tired or if anything happens where I am out of breath, I will fight through that, but there is nothing you can do with the heart. You can’t play with that, and there is no getting around it,” Garrett said. “If that was what happened then I would just be there for my guys the best I could, but I was very fortunate and blessed to be able to come back and keep on trying to make this push towards the playoffs.”
Back at practice for a couple of days, Garrett said he’s gotten back to normal but it wasn’t seamless.
“I felt a little stiff moving around. Felt like I had been on the couch for about a month instead of two weeks. Once I got everything going and moving, I kind of got in the groove of it again,” Garrett said.
While he wasn’t quite feeling himself at first, Garrett said he’s ready to go on Sunday—and fans won’t be seeing anything less than his best on the field.
“I am not here to make a cameo appearance or a second-rate arrival. I am here to do the job that I was doing before, and I do not think there will be any drop off,” Garrett said. “I would not give anything other than my best. I feel like that is at the very top of the defensive line rankings.”
Garrett doesn’t know where he contracted the virus and that part worries him a bit, but that he, like everyone else, is just trying to carry through.
“I have no idea how I got it,” Garrett said. “It is kind of worrisome because I do not know if I got it here, I do not know if I got it in the game, I do not really go out to eat, I try to stay away from that and I try to eat at home. Not sure. Really not sure whether I got it at the market picking up groceries. 2020 has been interesting. We are all just trying to carry on through that.”
Yes, Garrett is about as in-shape as they come and luckily he was able to recover quickly from COVID-19. But as he described, it wasn’t easy.
“It was not the greatest time. I was not one of those asymptomatic cases, even though leading up to it I thought I would be. My parents had it, it kicked their butt. I had it, it kicked my butt. Now, I am back.”
The Browns are obviously happy to have him back on the field to bolster the defense with his elite talent.
Garrett has recorded 9 1/2 sacks this season and has changed several games with strip-sacks while helping the Browns to their best record through 11 games since they returned to Cleveland in 1999.
Still, the Browns will keep on eye on Garrett to ensure his health and safety are top priorities on Sunday.
“He looks really good. As you would expect, he is excited. We will just monitor him throughout the game and make sure he is ready to go,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.