The Browns train at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

CANTON, Ohio — It was hot, it was humid, but it was a perfect day for a short practice and the Browns took full advantage of it, hosting a short 30-minute minicamp session on the field at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. in Guangzhou. While practice was light, the Browns accomplished a lot off the court Wednesday.

The Browns loaded up their 90-man roster, without catcher Anthony Schwartz who was ill and took a highway trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The day’s lessons began on that bus after head coach Kevin Stefanski instructed his team to put aside distractions for the trip to Stark County.

“I think it’s very easy for all of us to get lost on our phones and stare at this thing all day, so just ask them to put it away for 45 minutes on the ride,” Stefanski said.

Phone-free, players were treated to a bit of entertainment on the ride, watching “A Football Life: Jim Brown” on the way. Stefanski wanted to take the opportunity to explain to the team those who wore brown and orange before them and why Cleveland’s passion for football is so strong – a message that was well received.

“You kind of understand why Browns fans are the way they are. There’s such a history, and they kind of want to get back to that point,” veteran offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said. “It’s quite spectacular, the story of the team and coach Stefanski has done a good job of telling a lot of young guys, and I think that’s why we’re here today. – to see that and be a part of it. It’s pretty amazing some of the things the organization has done over the years.

Some players had seen the feature, others it was their first time. For rookie wide receiver David Bell, it was nice to be able to see him again now that he’s on the Browns.

“I’ve watched this before. Being able to see him again was definitely cool. I grew up with my grandpa, so he watched all the old NFL movies. Jim Browns was definitely one of his favorite players,” said said Bell.

Walker, on the other hand, got to see Jim Brown’s episode of “A Football Life” for the very first time.

“I thought I watched them all, but seeing that one, I think the biggest takeaway was that he was a special person,” Walker said. “The scene where his teammate was like, he got cut, and he was like ‘yeah they cut me, man’ and he was like ‘no wait a sec, I’ll be right back’ and then he’ in the team again. Who has that kind of power in today’s football? It tells you what kind of person he was, what kind of gamer he was, and what he stood for.

Once in Canton, the Browns got off the bus and headed to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for a quick practice together. A few positional drills here, 7-on-7s there. It was a light but important day of work.

“There’s so much to do in there, there’s so much from a meetings standpoint, there’s so much from practices and being here in practice,” Stefanski said. “It has as much to do with what they can bring on the pitch as well as off the field.”

Seeing the team bond, learn together and, especially on Wednesday with the soaring temperature and heat index, sweat together, Stefanski was pleased with the activities on the field.

Once practice was over and the squad showered and dressed, they walked through the hallways of the stadium and into the Pro Football Hall of Fame itself, cooling off after their minicamp session and brushing up on their knowledge of the game. .

“It’s pretty awesome. As a child, I didn’t know that much. You come here and you’ve seen from 1999 to today and the story is there, but it’s not the same,” Bitonio said. “Then you look back and it was like before the era from the Super Bowl, I mean 17 Hall of Famers, multiple championships, some of the best players to ever play the game, innovators, some of the best coaches ever [coach] the game came here.”

Walker had a day full of firsts, not only seeing the Jim Brown movie, but also visiting the Hall of Fame. It was a trip he had planned to do anyway, but the day’s practice gave him the perfect opportunity.

“I had actually met Ron Brewer [Director of Player Engagement] earlier this year and was like ‘hey, do you know anyone in the Hall of Fame? I want to go visit,’ and he said, ‘uh, wait, we’re going to go as a team,’ and I was like, ‘okay, cool.’ I’m excited, I’m very excited,” Walker said. with a smile. “I just want to tell the story, understanding the players who came before you, the legends who played this game, it’s always a blessing.”

Having the Pro Football Hall of Fame within an hour of the team and its facilities is something none of the other 31 clubs can say for itself, and Wednesday has become a resource and an opportunity liaison for the Cleveland Browns as they continue to prepare. for the 2022 season.

The Browns will hold another minicamp practice on Thursday before wrapping up until training camp later this summer. Thursday’s session will take place at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Camryn Justice is a reporter for News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.

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