Cody Kessler found himself in a familiar area Sunday, but it was enemy territory on this evening.
The Browns third-round quarterback was visiting family and friends in his native Bakersfield, California, over the weekend and capped his trip with a meal at a local restaurant. Surrounded by about 50 or so other patrons, Kessler cheered on his new favorite NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, throughout their Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
He represented one of two customers rooting for Cleveland's end to the 52-year championship drought, but it didn't bother him a bit.
"It was awesome. I've always been a LeBron fan. I've never really had a team but when I got out here and I got drafted I immediately became a Cleveland fan," Kessler said. "It was awesome, especially after the documentary "Believeland," and all the history behind this place.
"It was great, it was great for everything."
The rookies visit the second week of the Browns' Youth Football Camp at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Even though no one else had quite the same viewing experience as Kessler, that sort of reaction was the consensus from Browns rookies Tuesday the the Cleveland Browns Football Camp at FirstEnergy Stadium. For a second consecutive week, the entire rookie class joined young campers for an hour of football drills and fun under the sun on the Browns' home field.
The buzz from the Cavs' victory Sunday hasn't diminished a bit. It only amplified as the players worked with the children and the city announced the final details on Wednesday's parade.
"When they won, the streets were crazy," fifth-round wide receiver Rashard Higgins said. "I've never seen nothing like it and I was glad to be here at the time."
First-round wide receiver Corey Coleman took in Game 6 at The Q on Thursday and watched alongside Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, Higgins, Ricardo Louis and a handful of others in the basement of a downtown Cleveland restaurant. Like Higgins, Coleman grew up idolizing LeBron James, and his fandom has grown exponentially now that he's living in the same city.
"You get the feeling how crazy the city was and how excited everyone is around here," Coleman said. "It's just an amazing feeling. To be a part of this community now, it's a blessing. I'm happy for the Cavs and what they did."
Cleveland's rookies have received a crash course on the city's sports history in recent months. It's come from a variety of sources, including veterans in the locker room, Browns employees with Cleveland roots and fans on the street.
What they saw Sunday night and the days that have followed truly brought those lessons and words of advice to life.
"It speaks volumes about the fans here, the fan base, the people of Cleveland, how excited they get. It's awesome," Kessler said. "When you bring that energy and we want to bring that into football and give them something to be proud of. That's my mindset and the older guys on the team have preached that.
"I'm just happy to be a part of it and want to contribute anyway I can."