GREEN BAY, Wis. – Brad Myers played college football at Kentucky. Julie Myers played college basketball at Dayton.
As you might expect, their three boys were athletic and competitive. The biggest loser? The basement walls at their home in Miamisburg, Ohio.
One day, the kids convened in the basement for a game of trampoline football. It was Zach, the oldest of the kids, against Josh, the youngest. Brett, the middle brother, was the quarterback.
“We got this bright idea,” Brad recalled this week. “The ceilings in our basement are pretty high. We saw this trampoline for little kids, so we decided we’d get it for the boys. They were having a competition where they had a quarterback and then they had an offensive and a defensive player. You would have to jump off the trampoline to catch it. Well, Josh was going against Zach and Josh kept catching all these passes on Zach.”
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Zach reacted as any older brother would do.
“It just infuriated Zach,” Brad continued, “so he drove him into one of the pillars.”
Julie, a doctor, sat 7-year-old Josh on the couch and closed the gash.
“That’s 100 percent true,” she said, able to laugh through the passage of time. “I’ve never not had all my stuff to stitch a child up. Whenever we would travel on vacation, I always had it with me because you just never knew.”
Those basement walls could tell a story of thrown ping-pong paddles and other instances of competitive mayhem. Such as this one when Josh was 9:
“There was one time when they used the trampoline like a base and if you got to the base, you were safe,” Julie recalled. “One of them dove onto the base and slid the trampoline through the drywall. There’s a hole that’s 2 feet by 1 foot in our drywall. They got in a lot of trouble for that one.”
For Josh, there was more to being the youngest brother than broken drywall.
When he was 10, “He was sledding with Brett and a neighborhood buddy,” Brad recalled. “They spent an hour building a huge ramp. When completed, Brett being the older brother convinced Josh to go first. Josh, wanting to impress the older boys, of course did it. He flipped around backwards and smashed his face into the ramp. His mouth was bleeding and he was complaining how bad it hurt. Brett told him to stop being a wimp and made him walk all the way home. He also encouraged him not to tell us what happened. We took him to the ER and his jaw was fractured.”
Life’s experiences built toughness and competitiveness. Zach was a four-year starter at Miamisburg High School who spent the 2012 through 2016 seasons on the Kentucky football team. Josh Myers watched and learned. In high school, he was an all-state player, U.S. Army All-American and four-star recruit. At Ohio State, he redshirted in 2017, got a little playing time in 2018 and won the starting job at center in 2019. He was second-team all-Big Ten that first season and a second-team All-American in 2020.
Last week, years of hard knocks and hard work led to him being a second-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s hard for me to even put into words what that feeling is like,” he said shortly after being selected. “I spent my whole life working at this game and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it pay off so quickly without warning, man. I looked down and my agent was sitting right next to me. He looked down when my phone started ringing and said, ‘Hey, you should probably pick that up.’ Of course, it says ‘Green Bay, Wis.,’ on there. It’s the biggest rush of emotion I’ve ever felt in my life.”
For his parents, memories of that phone call returned a few days later.
“When you called and it said, ‘Green Bay, Wis.,’ it took me back to Friday night. I was like, ‘Oh, God, are you kidding me?’ It was unbelievable. Unbelievable. It’s so hard to wrap your mind around it.”
Myers’s path to the NFL Draft started a couple years earlier than expected. Brad and Julie didn’t let Zach play peewee football until he was in fifth grade. That was the plan for Josh, too. However, before the season, the third-grade team’s coach delivered a CD of highlights from the year before.
“Josh watched it and was all about it,” Julie recalled. “He begged and begged and begged us to let him play.”
His parents relented. Josh was always big, so he started on the offensive line, but he was always athletic for his size, too. Josh, who called his mom the best athlete in the family, played basketball through his sophomore year of high school. But it was his father’s sport that was his natural calling. Following his freshman year as a run-blocking guard for Miamisburg’s Wing-T attack, Ohio State offered him a scholarship. He blossomed into the No. 1-ranked recruit in the state.
“All three of the boys are really good athletes,” Brad said. “To me, the biggest thing was their passion for the game, their dedication, their work ethic. That part of it was the highlight. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t. But they were always 100 percent invested into what they were doing. That’s what I got the most enjoyment and pride out of.”
In 2020, the redshirt junior was voted a team captain.
It was “the greatest achievement I’ve ever had in my life,” he said. “To have the respect and the trust of my teammates, it meant everything to me.”
For his parents, it was added confirmation that they had raised their boys the right way.
“We were not helicopter parents for our kids,” Julie said. “We let them work through whatever issues or problems. We never rushed in to save them. I think he matured quicker than a lot of other kids might have, and I think that helped him from the leadership side. He was a leader from junior high on up – maybe even younger – and I think it’s because we instilled that confidence in him. He just ran with it. He is really an amazing leader. Even when he was on the scout team, he was getting the scout team all fired up. ‘Let’s go kick some butt’ or whatever. He took pride in everything he did. He would just lift others around him up. I think he was a leader from early on but to have those players recognize that, that was huge for him.”
Myers’s talent and character, combined with Green Bay’s need at the position after fellow former Ohio State standout Corey Linsley signed with the Chargers in free agency, is why it selected him in the second round. It was an unusually large investment by the team, showing just how highly it regarded the 22-year-old.
The Packers also used a second-round pick on Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins in 2019 but he’s a Pro Bowl guard. Jason Spitz, a third-round pick in 2006, and Mike Flanagan, a third-round pick in 1996, had been the earliest center investments since Bob Hyland was picked in the first round in 1967.
“He’s beyond excited to be playing for Green Bay,” Brad said. “It’s the perfect fit for him in so many ways, starting with the respect he has for the organization and the community. He’s an outdoors guys—loves to fish, loves to golf, loves the woods, loves the lakes. He loves cold, he hates heat. It’s the perfect fit for him.”
Time (and surgery, in the case of the toe injury Myers played through at the end of last season) heals all wounds. Time has not healed the basement. Maybe Josh can take care of it with some of his signing bonus.
“We still have the holes in our basement walls,” Julie said. “We’re going to but we haven’t yet because we’re not sure they’ve grown up enough yet.”