- CLUTCH SUMMARY: Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown in the Cleveland Browns’ preseason opener.
- Sheehy-Guiseppi has overcome a lot of adversity to get a shot at the NFL, even sleeping outside while training.
- Sheehy-Guiseppi is a long shot to make the Browns, but his story is incredible no matter what.
The Cleveland Browns began the 2019 preseason on a high note with a 30-10 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night. The starters played well, but the biggest story of the night was an 86-yard punt return touchdown by Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, whose journey to the NFL has been nothing short of incredible.
In this article, Browns.com’s Nick Shook presents the story of DSG’s difficult road to Cleveland. He ran track at Mesa Community College in Arizona before transferring to Phoenix College to play football. In the meantime, he went door-to-door selling home alarm systems. In 2016, he led the country in both kick return yards and touchdowns, and he was a First-Team NJCAA All-American.
Despite this success, Sheehy-Guiseppi would be out of football for the next two years, as he wasn’t able to secure a scholarship from Phoenix. He maxed out his credit card, traveling the country looking for an opportunity to play football for a school, but no Division I college team would give him a look.
Instead of giving up on his NFL dream, DSG continued to train, seeking out former NFL players, coaches and trainers wherever he could, just to gain any information they were able to share about the process. One of those people was trainer Pete Bommarito, who has worked with Curtis Samuel and Chris Jones. Sheehy-Guiseppi spent the last $200 in his pocket on training with Bommarito, and he spent his nights on the grass outside the Miami facility, 2,500 miles from home. The NFL was his goal, but how was he going to get there without playing FBS ball?
A former flag football teammate gave Sheehy-Guiseppi a tip on an NFL workout being conducted by the Cleveland Browns. DSG wasn’t invited to the workout, but he showed up anyway. His teammate had mentioned the name of Alonzo Highsmith, Cleveland’s Vice President of Player Personnel and a graduate of Miami.
When Sheehy-Guiseppi showed up to the workout, he was able to persuade the admissions officer that he personally knew Highsmith. As soon as he saw Highsmith, DSG ran over to introduce himself, and his name was written in at the bottom of the workout sheet. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and impressed Highsmith enough that after a phone call to assistant general manager Eliot Wolf, an invitation was extended to Sheehy-Guiseppi for a workout at the Browns’ practice facility in Berea, Ohio a week later.
With no money for a plane ticket back to Arizona, DSG spent the week in Miami as he continued to train for his big shot. He slept outside again, as well as in a 24-hour gym. He’d wake up early, work out for hours, and then go to the laundromat to charge his phone. After that, he’d look for food, eating just once or twice a day.
The second workout with Cleveland went well, and on April 5, he signed with the team. He spent training camp competing for the return job, as well as learning the wide receiver position. In his first preseason game, DSG caught two passes for 12 yards, but the 86-yard punt return stole the show.
What was even better was the reaction of his teammates and coaches. A large portion of the team sprinted into the end zone and jumped on top of him, while the coaching staff smiled and clapped. Head coach Freddie Kitchens gave DSG a hug, and the ball was kept for him. It was an amazing moment he’ll never forget:
Sheehy-Guiseppi is still a long shot to make the roster, but it’s incredible he’s even in the position he’s in now after having to overcome so much over the past few years. While other players are throwing tantrums and sitting out because they can’t wear their preferred helmet, Sheehy-Guiseppi is taking nothing for granted and leaving everything on the field. It’s impossible not to root for him, and hopefully his story will get a fairytale ending with a spot on an NFL roster.