Late in Cleveland’s preseason win over Washington last night, rookie return specialist Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi fielded a punt and zipped mostly untouched, 86 yards, all the way to the opposite end zone. Despite the inherent meaninglessness of the game and the already gaudy scoreline, Sheehy-Guiseppi’s Browns teammates dogpiled him and celebrated like they’d just scored in a playoff game. Even Freddie Kitchens got excited!
Sheehy-Guiseppi’s elicited such a strong reaction from his teammates because of how improbable his journey to the field has been. Back in April, Sheehy-Guiseppi showed up to a Browns workout in Miami that he heard about from “a friend of a friend made through a flag football league in Arizona.” The speedy Sheehy-Guiseppi was once a junior college All-American return man for Phoenix College, but he hadn’t been able to find a D-I college to transfer to since playing in 2016, so he trained and worked for two years to prepare for one last opportunity with the Browns.
Problem was, he wasn’t invited to the workout in Miami. Still, he decided to show up and try to find a way to get himself in front of team officials. Sheehy-Guiseppi flew to Miami and spent his last $200 to train with well-regarded NFL trainer Pete Bommarito, spending two nights on the grass outside the facility and one night at a 24-hour fitness center once his stay ran longer than expected. When he showed up to the Browns workout, he convinced the doorman that he was friends with Browns vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, which was a lie.
Once Sheehy-Guiseppi got in front of Highsmith, he convinced the exec to let him run, and he split a 4.38 40-yard dash. That was good enough to get him a camp invite, and a shot at showing out in the preseason, which he clearly made the most of. He also made his touchdown run in a pair of Odell Beckham Jr.’s cleats, which the star receiver lent him after Sheehy-Guiseppi lost his. His goal is the 53-man regular season roster, which even Highsmith admits will be a steep climb:
“It doesn’t happen very often, trust me,” Highsmith said of Sheehy-Guiseppi’s path to the Browns. “I’ve been in this 22 years now and that doesn’t happen very often. And the chances of him making the team are even slimmer.
“But if he does, it’ll be one of the greatest stories of all time.”
At least he is off to the best start possible.