The Bermuda Triangle. The Black Pearl. Cleveland Browns football.
Some things in this world are cursed. And though we’ll never know whether these hexes are cast by deities, shamans, or the football gods, there is one thing that we’ve always known for sure: Cleveland can’t have nice things. (LeBron is an exception, but Kyrie Irving might debate whether he qualifies as nice.) Cleveland’s no. 1 overall pick, Myles Garrett, was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain Wednesday. Garrett’s status will be revisited in two weeks, according to the team, but, given the general timeline of high ankle sprains, he may not see the field for more than a month.
Throughout training camp and the preseason, Garrett looked like the generational, can’t-miss talent he had been hyped as for much of the last year. Now he’s set to miss Cleveland’s first two games, against Pittsburgh and Baltimore—at a minimum. Garrett’s absence in matchups with Cleveland’s AFC North tormentors is more symbolic than substantive. Just hours before he tweaked his ankle, Garrett stood by comments that he’d made earlier in the offseason about wanting to “chop down” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1 for his first career sack. That now reads like a kid promising vengeance on a playground bully and then skipping school.
In June, then–Browns offensive lineman Cam Erving stepped on Garrett’s other (left) foot during practice. Garrett sustained a lateral foot sprain. Erving was traded two months later. Now, before Garrett has played a regular season down for Cleveland, he’s been saddled with a new injury. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com wrote that Garrett is “a fast healer with a high threshold for pain.” The Browns need to ignore that. Sending Garrett back on the field before he's been allowed to heal completely would be a mistake.
There’s nothing to play for this season in Cleveland. Fans are surely eager for Garrett to get on the field, but there’s no reason for him to play if he is even 98 percent recovered. The Browns seem to have finally found the right front-office tandem in executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, along with a capable head coach in Hue Jackson, but the handling of Garrett’s injury will be their first true test of the season. They must think about where he’ll be in 10 years, even if that means keeping him out for 10 weeks. The football gods reward patience.