Young reporters covering a sports team work hard to develop relationships and sources.
And Brad Stainbrook, covering the Cleveland Browns for the OBR and 247 Sports, works as hard as anybody.
His diligence paid off this week with an insightful message from a former Browns player.
In reply to a Stainbrook post on Instagram, Andrew Sendejo offered this prediction: “(Browns) will never make the playoffs without me.”
Former #Browns safety Andrew Sendejo on my instagram:
“(Browns) will never make the playoffs without me.” pic.twitter.com/g48EHGf3b6
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) July 19, 2023
In Sendejo’s lone season in Cleveland, the team won a Wild Card playoff game before losing in the second round.
Indeed, since Sendejo was released following that season, the Browns have not returned to the NFL postseason.
And that short 2020 playoff run remains the team’s only playoff appearance since the 2002 season.
Is There A Sendejo Curse?
We’re almost certain Sendejo’s tongue was planted firmly in his cheek when he replied to Stainbrook.
But what if he did leave some kind of curse on the Browns when he left?
Cleveland signed one of the prizes of the 2021 free agent class to replace Sendejo.
But to say John Johnson III fell short of fans’ expectations is putting it mildly.
The Cleveland #Browns have signed S Juan Thornhill to a 3 year, $21M deal.
— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) March 15, 2023
And strong safety Grant Delpit hasn’t often played up to his “second-round-steal” reputation, either.
Is there some kind of negative mojo lingering since Sendejo’s exit?
One person who hopes not is Juan Thornhill, signed to replace Johnson as the starting free safety.
What It Means To The Browns
Besides Thornhill, Berry fortified his safety group with veteran Rodney McLeod.
He also went to work rebuilding the defensive line and replaced Joe Woods with a more aggressive coordinator.
Jim Schwartz takes over a defense that, once again, looks solid on paper.
But not all of Cleveland’s eggs are in the defensive basket.
Cleveland Browns to make the playoffs
Yes +120 pic.twitter.com/Pv2sLYQPJI
— PhillyGodfather ® Sports Bettor (@phillygodfather) July 16, 2023
Kevin Stefanski rewrote his offensive playbook to help Deshaun Watson rediscover his Pro Bowl form.
And Berry stocked up on speedy wide receivers for the Browns’ new-look attack.
For good measure, the team brought in Bubba Ventrone to rework special teams, too.
We’ll see what happens if the team starts slowly, but it appears Berry is not worried about Sendejo’s warning just yet.