Damon’s Dream: Sheehy-Guiseppi’s Incredible Journey to the NFL
BEREA, Ohio – Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi once led Traverse City St. Francis to a state championship appearance in basketball, a sport he loved.
“I was so excited about basketball,” he said. “I used to wake up before school started just to go to gym to shoot on the gun. Put up 500 shots before school started. I was so excited to play basketball that that’s just what I wanted to stay with.”
Sheehy-Guiseppi wanted to continue his career in college basketball, so he and his brother tried out for a junior college team in Arizona.
His brother made the team. Damon did not.
“I told my brother, ‘I’m working on getting bigger. I think I’m getting faster. I think I’m going to try to play football. I never played it yet,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said.
He ended up playing two years for Phoenix College and was an NJCAA All-American in 2016 after leading the nation with 1,278 kick return yards and four kick return touchdowns.
However, after not getting a scholarship, Sheehy-Guiseppi decided to pursue other opportunities in football. He tried several different routes, but got no bites. That was until he heard details about a tryout in Miami, Florida, with the Cleveland Browns.
He took a bus and his mom gave him $200 to train the week leading up to the tryout. He had nowhere to sleep, so he stayed anywhere he could and ate whenever he could.
“I went to the 24-hour fitness and the laundromat, but I usually slept outside the facility, so I could get in there early and just be ready. Have my bags brought into the facility and just got ready for the workout,” he said.
“I walked to the mall. The mall was about a mile and a half away, I would go in there, get a water cup and just drink water. If I could, I have a friend from back home try to send me some Uber eats.”
He wasn’t invited to the tryout, but he came prepared to say who invited him after researching Browns’ Vice President of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith.
“They had all the names on the list printed out,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said. “He was like, ‘Who are you?’ I was like, ‘My name is Damon Sheehy. I’m here for the tryout.’ He was like, ‘I don’t have you on the list.’ I was like, ‘I talked to Alonzo Highsmith. I’m supposed to be on the list.’ And he just wrote me down at the end. Able to bless me. When Alonzo came in, that’s just when I talked to him.”
Sheehy-Guiseppi ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, and 30 minutes later, he received a phone call asking him for another tryout in Berea, Ohio, at the Cleveland Browns facility.
“He called me and told me like, ‘You’re going to be able to run again?’ When he said that, I was so excited. I was just sitting there. I didn’t know what to say. I just wanted to go. I was ready to get on the flight and just go run again and see if I can make it happen,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said.
And he made it happen. He earned a spot on the Browns training camp roster, listed as a wide receiver. It’s the first time in his career that he’s a wide receiver, and he gets to learn from All-Pro wide receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
“Just seeing people that are on TV every day, you YouTube their highlights before you go to sleep, just hoping to make plays like that, and then you really see how consistently they’re doing it and how easy they look and how fluently, it’s just awesome,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said.
“They just give me the little pointers and details I’ve never had before. Back in JUCO, I didn’t get to play receiver, so they just give me all the pointers, helping me expand my game and get better.”
It’s been a dream for Sheehy-Guiseppi, and he has made the most of his opportunity. His ultimate goal, though, is to give back to his mother, who has supported him throughout his entire journey.
“My dream is honestly to make my momma happy. It’s never about me,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said. “I just want to do what I can to make my momma happy and make sure my momma can retire. She can be successful without having to worry about anything. I’m going to strive to make sure I can take care of her.”
His mother and his family attended Sheehy-Guiseppi’s first NFL preseason game on Thursday against the Redskins.