Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski grateful to be back ahead of Chiefs showdown

By Reuters
FILE PHOTO: NFL: Cleveland Browns-Training Camp

After testing positive for COVID-19, Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski could only watch on TV as they beat Pittsburgh 48-37 on Sunday for their first playoff win since 1994 and the experience left him with a “newfound respect” for fans locked out due to the pandemic.

“I don’t plan on doing that again,” said Stefanski, who is expected to return this week to prepare for the Browns’ divisional round game against Super Bowl champions Kansas City.

“I have a newfound respect for all of our fans and how they watch those games.

“I like it better when I have some control.”

Stefanski is under no illusions about the difficulty of the task awaiting them in the next round.

The Chiefs’ Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns during the regular season. Tight end Travis Kelce finished 2020 with the second-most receiving yards in the NFL.

“Big week — got to go on the road versus a really good football team with great players and great coaches,” the 38-year-old Stefanski said.

Cleveland finished the regular season 11-5, breaking a run of 12 straight losing seasons, and while most see the Chiefs as overwhelming favorites Stefanski told reporters he long ago rejected the “underdog” label so many were quick to apply to the Browns.

“I don’t really concern myself with the outside and what they think about our football team and our chances,” he said. “We’ll just keep the focus on us, the focus on our opponent and really ignore all the other noise.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Rutherford)