CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Kevin Stefanski spent 14 years with the Minnesota Vikings, leaving in January only to become head coach of the Browns, so of course he watched with sadness as Minneapolis was hit hard with arson and looting following the death of George Floyd.
“I spent a lot of time there and had three kids born there so that state and that city is in my heart, and it was sad," Stefanski said during a zoom meeting with reporters on Wednesday. “It was heartbreaking. It was frustrating. It was maddening. It was all of those things. My reaction was just like the rest of the country. I know this, there are some special people there and there are some special people in this city, and I think we are all going to work together and unite to make sure that that we are in a better place through all this.”
By “all”, he means the Browns organization, fellow coaches, community leaders, everyone.
Stefanski wants his players to “get in the arena”, as he says ... be involved, use their platforms, and know that their head coach, who’s still getting to know his new team, supports them 100%.
“My big note to our players is that I have their back, and that is not just lip service,” Stefanski says. "I am standing right there beside them. They have my support, and I promise you one thing, we will just continue to listen to each other from a place of mutual respect.”
Stefanski, who along with his mother and two young sons attended a peaceful protest in Avon recently, knows this is a conversation that will need to continue. Into the Fall, with yes, gestures carrying over to the field.
“That is one of many issues we need to talk about in this movement, if you will,” Stefanski says. “That is something that I promise you we will spend as much time as necessary as an organization listening to each other, understanding each other and then we will make a decision together.
“There has been some frustration among all of our guys, but I promise you this, there has been a very unified message from all of our guys that they want to be part of this change.”