Not every rags-to-riches sports story unveils itself in a linear fashion. For every can’t-miss first-round superstar, there are talented athletes who are fueled by a dream and determination. Take Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, for example. He went from complete unknown to NFL player thanks to a mix of hard work, dedication, and guile.
Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi goes from junior college to desperation
The rollercoaster ride for Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi has taken the young NFL hopeful from Orlando, Florida, to Arizona, and then on to Michigan before returning to Arizona, where his improbable football story began. The twists and turns included a run as a junior college superstar who led the nation in kick return yardage and touchdowns, promptly followed by a dead end after failing to even land as much as a tryout after college.
Unwilling to give up his dream, Sheehy-Guiseppi spent a year crisscrossing the country looking for tryouts for any pro league, including the Canadian Football League. Despite the talent and the ambition, the CFL told Sheehy-Giuseppi it was not really looking for new players, so the $100 participation fee — which he couldn’t really afford — was money out the window. Ditto for an Arena League look-see in Atlanta.
Undeterred, DSG furiously trained in Arizona while he kept an ear to the ground and played in some amateur flag football leagues.
Next stop, homelessness in Miami
Through a friend in Arizona, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi heard that the Cleveland Browns were holding tryouts in Miami. With his savings blown, the young NFL hopeful slept on the grass outside a gym where he was spending his last few dollars working out. His friend in Arizona told him to look for the Browns head of personnel Alonzo Highsmith. So, on sheer guts, Sheehy-Giuseppi faked his way into the tryout and proceeded to run a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, which is pure NFL speed.
Blazing speed earned Sheehy-Guiseppi an invite to Cleveland Browns training camp in Berea, Ohio. In order to pay for the trip, the now-broke NFL wannabe continued to sleep outside the Miami gym where he was training. But it all paid off. On April 4, 2019, Damon Sheehy-Giuseppi became a member of the Cleveland Browns.
A training camp sensation and then…
As if it were a script written by Hollywood, the first time Damon Sheehy-Giuseppi touched the ball on a punt return, he zipped his way 86 yards into the end zone for a kick return touchdown. Loved by his teammates for his sheer grit, emotions ran high.
“I just ran as fast as I could in the hole,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said in an interview with Heavy. “I felt all the love. I was over there gasping for air, but I felt all the love. It was just a blessing to see them all coming down excited.”
Sadly, inexperience caught up with the young speedster, and in the fourth game of the preseason, DSG fumbled a punt return and injured his hip. On August 31, the fairytale came to an end — at least for now — as the Browns cut Sheehy-Giuseppi. His teammates, most notably the outspoken Odell Beckham Jr., had plenty to say about DSG’s training camp.
“Since day one brother!,” OBJ said on Instagram. “God has his eyes on u! Keep workin ! No one can out work u! Forever LUV.”
What does the future hold?
With possibly some money in his pocket from his time in Browns training camp, Damon Sheehy-Giuseppi can set his sights on continuing to sharpen his skills and breaking through on a CFL roster (now that he has actual game experience) or the new XFL, which will re-launch in 2020.
There’s every reason to expect a future in the NFL for the young man whose ambition and moxy was significantly larger than the contents of his wallet. For DSG, who is long on talent and perseverance, the odds are it will be sooner rather than later.