The Browns added a historic, Hall-of-Fame twist for Day 2 of mandatory minicamp Wednesday as the team bussed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a day of team bonding and learning about the past legends of the game.
Rather than practice at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus and conduct normal team meetings in Berea, the Browns opted to take the hour-long drive south for a light 30-minute walkthrough practice, followed by a special presentation on "The Forgotten Four" and a team tour through the Hall.
"It's important for all of us in any walk of life to know the people that walked that path before you," Stefanski said. "I really try to take advantage of every one of these practices and every one of these minutes to remind ourselves — me and our players — about the people that came before us in not just the NFL, but our storied franchise."
The history-based experience started before the Browns stepped foot in Canton, too — they watched the "A Football Life" documentary on Jim Brown for their bus ride to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, where they then conducted a short, helmetless practice in T-shirts and shorts on the turf.
"I've seen (the documentary) before," Stefanski said, "but it just felt important that the entire team saw that."
Check out photos of players and coaches working throughout the offseason
Many players hadn't previously visited the Hall of Fame, and the experience to walk the halls and practice at the stadium with their teammates made the experience even more special.
That was the case for Anthony Walker Jr., a six-year veteran who is entering his second season with the Browns. He previously asked Ron Brewer, the director of player engagement, if he knew anyone at the Hall because he wanted to visit.
Brewer smiled and told him to wait. The team hadn't yet announced their plans.
"I'm very excited," Walker said. "Understanding the players that come before you and have played this game, it's always a blessing. I've always prided myself on holding up that legacy on the hardwork and everything those players stood for. I'm trying to become the best player I can be with the hopes of getting to that point one day."
The visit was one of multiple activities and trips the Browns have organized this year to build team camaraderie.
Last week, they skipped their final day of organized team activities and traveled to the Cavaliers' practice facility for a shootaround and 3-point competition, an idea from Stefanski that stemmed from the amount of players who have been shooting on a basketball hoop at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus after practice.
QB Deshaun Watson organized a trip with the offense to the Bahamas, and DE Myles Garrett took the defense on a trip to Miami. Those have been some of the highlights of an offseason program where team bonding has been one of, if not the top priority.
It was even apparent in the light practice that the team was becoming a tighter-knit group. Several players exchanged jokes and danced to the rap music that played on the stadium speakers between drills. The defensive line also ended practice with a game of "pepper," where players had to catch and toss a ball around in a circle with one hand. If someone dropped the ball, they were out of the game, which almost always led to a big reaction from the group.
"To be a great team, you have to have that camaraderie," Walker said. "You have to have that team mindset because when you go through the dark days — sometimes when you lose — or the dog days of camp, the dog days of this grind, minicamp, and everything like that, you need that team brotherhood and team bond to bring the team together."
A trip to Canton will certainly help with that.
"It's such an amazing venue with the history of football in our backyard," Stefanski said. "We're very appreciative of them having us down here."