Browns’ Garrett Punched By Fan: Incident Raises Player Safety Concerns

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Cleveland Browns defensive-end Myles Garrett was sucker-punched by a fan while driving in his car Wednesday. In a statement to police, Garrett says the fan exited a vehicle and flagged him down to take a picture. After seeking permission, the individual took a picture of Garrett who was sitting in his own vehicle, which was then followed by a less-than-effective shot to the face after the fan reached through the defender’s car window.

The incident was first reported by Garrett via Twitter @MylesLGarrett: 

This incident definitely raises some eyebrows regarding player safety. Garrett, currently leading the National Football League in sacks (9) was simply attempting to be a “Sportsman”. So why in the world would anyone, especially a fan, go out of their way to threaten the safety of a professional athlete trying to take a picture with them? The Browns’ star defensive player literally stopped driving to accommodate this guy!

Legends like Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali were men of the people. Their off-field exploits are well documented, as both spent great lengths of time mixing it up with the public while not in competition. Because of those moments, the stories of their greatness live on. They embodied the true definition of a “Sportsman”, with Ruth often taking up home-run exhibitions while traveling from town to town, and Ali regularly engaging in harmless sparring with children and fans alike. In today’s society, it’s uncertain whether or not these all-time greats would be able manifest their reputations as “folk-heroes” while engaging in the same activities.

Video Credit: First Things First

The recently-identified puncher, 24-year-old Richard Perez from Strongsville, Ohio was definitely a Cleveland Browns fan. Why during a once-in-a-lifetime moment with a franchise icon, would this “kid” decide to punch the former first-overall pick? Was he joking, or did he think it was funny? It speaks to great lengths regarding his immaturity. At the same tine, it’s a defining example of how far American’s have fallen as a society. The act is a complete lack of respect for one’s fellow man, as well as an invasion of one’s own personal space.

The incident is inexplicably disgusting and unacceptable for a few different reasons. This act of intentional violence throw up some major red flags:

  1. You don’t put your hands on another human being unless invited, exchanging pleasant greetings, or defending yourself. Point-blank, PERIOD.
  2. It ruins the experience for the player and the fans. Garrett is likely to forever have his guard up and shy away from fan interaction, citing concerns for his personal safety. Thus, it will separate him from endearing fans.
  3. Mental health concerns are vastly growing, both in diagnosis and dialogue throughout the American pubic. How long will it be until a crazed fan takes things a step further than Perez? Everyone remembers Robert Deniro playing a crazed-fan turned vigilante in The Fan.

My only hope is that this individual is brought to justice swiftly, by means of strict consequences. These players are already living with a heightened sense of vulnerability because of their public availability and fame. At the same time, these athletes know these types of incidents come with the territory of being a professional athlete, and need to be more hesitant while taking the proper measures necessary to protect themselves. We live in a dangerous and sick world. Despite the fact no one involved was seriously harmed, this “trash-like” act threatening one’s personal safety will certainly be a learning experience for the entire sports community.

Header Photo Credit: 92.3 The Fan – Radio.com

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