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What Kevin Stefanski means when he says he wants to be the Browns' 'point guard'

Kevin Stefanski looked over at his father, Ed, after delivering the analogy that perfectly described why he was viewed as the best possible fit for the Browns as their new head coach.

Ed, a longtime NBA executive and current senior adviser for the Detroit Pistons, appreciated this one, and Kevin didn't want him to feel too proud of himself.

"No smiling over there," Stefanski said.

Stefanski had just laid it out, explaining why his goal was to become the "point guard" for a Browns organization that is striving for the kind of alignment it believes will lead to better success on Sundays in the fall for years to come.

"I am ready and willing and excited to lead from out in front as I stand before you," Stefanski said Tuesday at FirstEnergy Stadium, speaking behind the same dais and inside the same room he'll speak from after the Browns' home games in 2020 and beyond. 

"I am also ready and willing to step back and let the success and shine the light on our players, which is where it should be. To use basketball terms so that my dad can understand this, I want to be the point guard for this organization. I want to bring the ball up, but then I want to share the basketball with someone else to get an easy bucket." 

It's that kind of mindset that drew the Browns to Stefanski, who becomes the team's 18th full-time head coach in franchise history. Half of those have come since the franchise returned in 1999 -- too large of a number for anyone's liking. Inserting Stefanski into a structure the team believes will lead to better overall alignment is the start to hopefully putting a halt to that trend.

In the 37-year-old Stefanski, the Browns believe they have the leader that can bring much-needed stability to one of the most important positions in the entire organization. There's "no ego" in the former Vikings offensive coordinator, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said. There's a quiet confidence and authenticity that resonates with players and his colleagues, a sentiment that was repeatedly relayed by the 25-30 references the Cleveland search committee checked before interviewing Stefanski late Thursday in Minnesota.

"Ultimately," said Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta said, "Kevin checked all of the boxes."

Check out photos of new head coach Kevin Stefanski's first press conference

Stefanski, the only repeat candidate from last year's coaching search, said he was "undaunted" and "undeterred" by the challenge he faces as the leader of a team coming off a disappointing 6-10 finish. He'll play an integral part in the team's search for a new general manager and is working to compile a coaching staff "the right way." Together, Stefanski, the new hires and the ones who are already with the Browns, will shape the team's "collective vision."

Then, when April rolls around and players start trickling back to Berea, the fun starts. 

Haslam said Stefanski was one of eight candidates to deliver the same message about the team's roster, saying it was nowhere close to being "a rebuild." Stefanski praised quarterback Baker Mayfield, whom he called "legit" and repeatedly said "the sky is the limit" when discussing the soon-to-be third-year signal caller's potential. There's a talented tandem of running backs, two perennial Pro Bowl 1,000-yard wide receivers and young Pro Bowlers on the defensive side of the ball.

There's just a lot of work to be done over the next nine months, and Stefanski knows it will be the people who surround him who will help achieve the goals that haven't been met in recent seasons.

"First and foremost, success starts with people, and I know we will talk a lot about culture, but it is absolutely about the people," Stefanski said. "Everyone knows the Harry Truman quote, 'It is amazing what you can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.' And that is what I believe we have in our building. We have great people.

"I cannot wait to be a part of this change. Again, why am I confident about that, because I have been in the building. I know the people that we have. I know we are going to add to that building. I know we are going to add players, as it happens in the NFL, but I am excited for this challenge and I am ready for it."