Grady Jarrett grew up in suburban Atlanta. Following a standout high school football career, he went on to shine for Clemson football. He received All-ACC honors after a strong senior season. In 2015, his hometown team, the Atlanta Falcons, selected the standout defensive lineman in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.
Jarrett has exceeded expectations ever since, earning back-to-back Pro Bowl selections in 2019 and 2020. He was also an All-Pro in 2020. The star defensive lineman was one of the most dominant players on the football field during Super Bowl LI, sacking quarterback Tom Brady three times during the game.
The 2023 season marked Jarrett’s ninth year in the NFL, but an ACL injury cut his season short.
The Falcons defensive captain and unquestioned leader suffered the injury on Oct. 29 during a 28-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
Jarrett has anchored the Falcons defense for several years, starting every game since the 2019 season. He has appeared in 135 games in his NFL career, starting 120 of those games.
“He’s a leader in this locker room,” All-Pro safety Jessie Bates III told reporters shortly after learning that Jarrett would miss the remainder of the season. “But his voice will still be out there. We’ll be all right.”
Bates was a key free-agent signing and grabbed his fifth interception of the season this past Sunday in the Falcons’ win over the New York Jets. Bates had a highlight reel-worthy 92-yard interception return in Week 12 in a game against the New Orleans Saints.
Jarrett underwent surgery in early November and continues to recover. He spoke to Fox News Digital this week about his progress.
“Coming along good, [I’m] at my week-five mark now where I can start bending my leg a little more … doing some strengthening exercises. I’m making some great progress, it’s definitely a long journey back to fully one hundred, but I’m going to embrace this process every day. Take it day by day … and I’m in good spirits and definitely optimistic for my future and what’s to come. I just feel [this was] just a roadblock in the road … a lot of football still left in me and I want to be best in the game at what I do, and I’m going to work my tail off to get back to that.”
On Tuesday, Jarrett teamed up with national nonprofit Shoes That Fit and Mercedes-Benz USA to bring brand-new shoes to students in Atlanta during the holiday season. The event was part of MBUSA’s “Holiday Love Celebration.”
“We’ve got kids all the way from kindergarten all the way up to eighth grade … everybody is going to be blessed with some shoes,” Jarrett told Fox News Digital.
Shoes that Fit believes that providing shoes for children can have a significant and positive impact on their future.
“We are a national nonprofit. We send shoes to kids in every single state across the U.S.,” Janet Lang, senior manger of strategic partnerships at Shoes for Fit explained. “We’re just absolutely thrilled … our partner here today is Mercedes-Benz. They really believe in giving back and giving back to communities.”
“Our nonprofit began in 1993 … and this year alone we are distributing about 180,000 pairs of shoes to kids.”
“Giving back is essential,” Jarrett said about lending a helping hand to his community. “It’s important to these kids … letting them know somebody cares about them and [we] want to motivate them to be their best selves. And for me, it means a lot to be able to be in a position to be a part of an event like this. I don’t take my role in this lightly at all. It means the world to me. [I’m] blessed that God blessed me with that influence to be able to make somebody’s life better.”
Jarrett ended his impressive run at Clemson in 2014, but four years later, one of the most highly sought-after recruits in recent history stepped on campus: Trevor Lawrence. The star quarterback quickly led the Tigers to the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. Clemson’s 28-point win was one of the largest margins of defeat that legendary coach Nick Saban has suffered during his tenure at Alabama.
Lawrence led the Jaguars to a playoff berth last season and was in the midst of a strong season this year. But during a Monday night loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Lawrence’s ankle appeared to get stepped on. He was in visible pain and slammed his hand against the grass in frustration before limping to the locker room.
“Just an unfortunate injury for [Lawrence], just a freak accident with a lineman falling back on his ankle, and it’s part of the game, unfortunately,” Jarrett said.
“As I’m sitting here talking to you with a crutch, sometimes things just don’t go your way. You just got to be able to bounce back … fight back. Hopefully, he can come back soon and keep doing a great job for the Jags this year. He turned that organization completely around … and hopefully help them finish strong. Definitely feeling for him … it’s an unfortunate part of the game.”
The Falcons have had an up-and-down season, but the team is currently on a two-game winning streak. The Week 13 win gave Atlanta back-to-back wins for the second time this season. The Falcons defeated the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers to open the 2023 campaign before dropping the next two games to fall to 2-2 after the first four games of the year.
The Falcons return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium this weekend for the pivotal NFC South matchup against the Buccaneers on Dec. 10.
“We are first in the division right [now], control out destiny … you want to be in the driver’s seat. So, we’re going to put our all into this game knowing Tampa is not going to take it lightly.”