And he wasn’t even wearing his own shoes
Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi; learn the name. You’ll be hearing it a lot if his first NFL game is anything to go by.
To call it a movie in the making maybe a little premature, but boy oh boy is Sheehy-Guiseppi crafting quite the story. From sleeping outside the practice facility to a punt-return touchdown, there aren’t many Cinderella stories like this in the league. And at a time when the League is experiencing declining ratings and endless controversy, a feel-good story was what everyone needed.
The story goes like this. Sheehy heard about the tryout from a friend of a friend. He then books a flight using his mothers’ points, from Arizona to Long Beach, California. Mind you, he has no right to be at this tryout that he’s flying across the country for. So what exactly is his plan? He’ll figure it out once he gets there. All he knew was that this could be the opportunity he’s been waiting for, and he wasn’t going to let it slip.
The story just keeps getting better. After arriving at the practice facility, he convinces the staff that he is supposed to be there, employing a little cunning by familiarizing himself with Alonzo Highsmith, the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Browns. Once they let him in, he was a shoo-in. He ran blistering times, and showed great skill, especially for someone who was out of the game for some time.
But the struggles don’t end at the gate. After getting called up to work out with the team the following week, he realizes he needs to stay in California. One problem, he’s broke. He used all his money at a training facility, getting ready for the tryout. And his flight ticket was only one-way. Talk about going all in.
Thankfully, he didn’t crap out, but he did need to rough it out for a week. Sleeping at fitness centers and the beach, while charging his phone at laundromats, Sheehy made ends meet by living homeless. Not wanting to alarm his single-mother back home, he keeps his struggles a secret.
Sheehy eventually earns a contract with the Browns and makes them proud, with a 86-yard punt return for a touchdown, on his first NFL play. Even if it is just preseason, that’s no easy feat. But wait, there’s more.
Sheehy actually misplaced his cleats hours before kickoff. He was talking to a fellow teammate, a man by the name of Odell Beckham Jr., about his predicament, when Odell offers up his own shoes off his feet. Yes, Sheehy kept the shoes after the game.
So let’s recap. A man from Arizona flies out to Long Beach to attend a tryout he is not invited to. The man runs out of money preparing for the tryout but makes the cut. Now being broke, said man must live homeless while waiting for the team workout to begin. Fast forward to the man’s first organized football game in 2-plus years, a preseason NFL game against the Washington RedSkins. On his first play, he returns a punt 86 yards for a touchdown, in another man’s shoes.
It almost sounds like the run-up for a sequel to The Blind Side, but the story’s not done yet. And thankfully so, because we, along with many other fans, can’t wait to see more magical moments like this.
Good luck, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppe, we’re all rooting for you. While we have no doubt in our minds they’ll make a movie out of you, we’re hoping that movie is decades down the road; while they wait to see where the story goes.
To read the full story on Damon Sheehy-Guiseppe’s climb into the NFL, click here.